COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STUDIES IN ENGLISH
AND COMPARATIVE LITERATURE
THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS
LEMCKE & BUECHNER
30-32 WEST 27TH SREET
AMEN CORNER, E.G.
The syllable "tab," photographed Aug. 14, 1915. The higher summits
of the time-line are approximately one sixtieth of a second apart. The
negative has been slightly reinforced by the engraver.
A A A A A
< * *
"Ah" film at slow speed photographed July 25, 1915.
of roughness in the tone is recorded near the center.
" Top! Top!", from the test for sense of rhythmic " swing." Part of the
record of Observer No. 4. (See Chapter III.)
RHYTHM OF PROSE
AN EXPERIMENTAL INVESTIGATION OF
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCE IN
THE SENSE OF RHYTHM
WILLIAM MORRISON PATTERSON, PH.D.
INSTRUCTOR IN ENGLISH IN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS
All rights reserved
BY COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS
Printed from type, December, 1916
D. M. P.
M. R. L. P.
C. B. A.
This Monograph has been approved by the Depart-
ment of English and Comparative Literature in Columbia
University as a contribution to knowledge worthy of
A. H. THORNDIKE,
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
WHAT is prose and what is verse? Aristotle and Diony-
sius of Halicarnassus, Cicero and Quintilian, Professor
Saintsbury and Professor Sievers, have all tried to tell us.
No one yet, however, seems to be quite sure. Free verse
and "poetic prose" are the disturbing ghosts which inter-
pose their ambiguous outlines in the way of a decision.
But, apart from this, is it any wonder that the student
who dips, or, more boldly, dives into the inevitable chapter
on rhythm to be found in current musical hand-books,
rhetorics, treatises about versification, etc., emerges mys-
tified, when so little account is taken of individual differ-
ence in what is one of the most "individually different"
of human experiences? Rhythm is tangled up with our
sense of time and our sense of intensity, both of which are
not only tricky, but multifarious. Nothing is more pre-
posterous, therefore, than that an author, the organization
of whose temporal impressions is confessedly vague, should
undertake to present to humanity at large a comprehensive
and final statement of the art of versification. His own
particular code might easily be read with interest as a
document, but could hardly be expected to serve as a
universal guide. On the other hand, it would be equally
misleading for the experiences of an aggressively rhythmic
individual, with a relatively accurate sense of temporal
values, strong motor reactions, and subtle powers of dis-
crimination in pitch and stress, to be set forth as if they were
thoroughly usual. The psychologists have long since recog-
nized that rhythm is the result of a complex process, whose
operation can never be reduced to any one short formula.
X PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
Inasmuch as the writer felt convinced that a clear solu-
tion of the problem of prose rhythm would depend upon
experimental data, obtained under carefully regulated
conditions, the main text of the present book was not
composed until after a series of experiments, described in
Appendices I, II, and III, had been performed upon a
group of twelve subjects, most of whom were trained ob-
servers, connected with the Department of Psychology at
Columbia. Preliminary experiments upon an entirely
different set of observers had already been completed
during the summer of 1915. The regular tests were given
in the sound-room of the Department of Psychology, and
in a fairly sound-proof cabinet, specially constructed under
the supervision of Professor Pegram of the Department of
Physics. In this cabinet was installed apparatus for photo-
graphing the vibrations of the human voice. The object
of the investigation was to determine individual difference
in rhythmic experience and performance, with the particular
hope of ascertaining facts that would lead toward a better
understanding of the nature of prose rhythm.
Out of the facts, more or less accurately established,
there has appeared the needed explanation. Past theoreti-
cal tangles are now seen to be due chiefly to a failure to
take sufficiently into account individual difference in the
complex of actual rhythmic experience; and a foundation
is laid, based on experimental data, upon which, it is
hoped, duly flexible systems, either of versification or of
prose rhythm, can safely be erected. Most of the funda-
mental principles have already been authenticated by
previous investigators. Rhythm is thus regarded as first
of all an experience, established, as a rule, by motor
performance, of however rudimentary a nature. 1 Only
1 Ruckmich, C. A., The role of kinoesthesis in the perception of rhythm,
Amer. J. of Pay. , XXIV, 1913.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION xi
in a transferred sense (as potential) can rhythm be said
to exist on the printed page of a text.
Of the six chapters in the present book, Chapter II,
"Historical Survey," is primarily intended for psycholo-
gists; but the account of Squire's "Genetic Study of
Rhythm," and the brief reviews of Meumann, Wallin,
MacDougall, Wundt, Verrier, Sievers, Schipper, and
Thomson should not be omitted by the literary student.
Chapter III, "The Sense of Swing," is chiefly of interest to
psychologists and to musicians. Chapter IV, "Rhythmic
Tunes," is indispensable to a real understanding of the
subject, as it contains a detailed description of a "timer's"
experience with regard to a sentence by Walter Pater.
The musician should read Chapters I and III, the larger
part of Chapter IV, and the first nineteen conclusions
listed in Chapter VI. It is necessary to urge every reader,
however, to obtain as clear as possible an understanding
of "unitary pulses," "elastic units," "syncopation," "spon-
taneous substitution," and "rhythmic tunes." These
terms are explained and discussed in various parts of the
book, as shown by the references in the Index. The
appendices contain a condensed description of the actual
experiments, and brief comments upon their significance.
The "Introductory Outline," which precedes Chapter I,
gives a short review of the whole situation.
The present experiments were facilitated by the kindness
of Professors Cattell and Woodworth of the Department
of Psychology at Columbia, and especially by the material
assistance of Professor Pegram of the Department of
Physics, without whom the apparatus for voice-photography
could never have been constructed. Obligations are due to
Professor Woodworth, Professor Hollingworth, Dr. Poffen-
berger, Mr. E. B. Kinney of New York, and others who
compose the group of observers that were tested. The
author is especially indebted to Professor Krapp of the
xii PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
English Department, under whose general supervision the
work was undertaken, and whose sympathetic interest in
the whole investigation is deeply valued. He is likewise
indebted to Professor Lawrence and Professor Fletcher for
reading the manuscript, and for help in other ways. Valu-
able suggestions were received from Professor Thorndike,
Professor Todd of the Department of Romance Languages,
and Professor Boas of the Department of Anthropology at
Columbia; also, from Professor Baird of Clark University,
and Professor Sabine of Harvard.
W. MORRISON PATTERSON
May 1, 1916
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
Miss AMY LOWELL'S generous readiness to deliver, in the
author's photographing laboratory, readings of what she
considers typical vers libre, has resulted in objective meas-
urements which indicate interesting progressive changes in
the temporal intervals from one chief accent to another,
but nothing, as yet, which indicates a difference, in kind
between the "cadences" of this vers libre and those of emo-
tional prose. Does there exist, then, a difference in degree?
These recent experiments have been of too brief a nature to
warrant any final conclusions; but the author, after hearing
Miss Lowell's effective delivery of her own compositions,
might state his view of the question at issue as follows:
The segregation of the phrases in VERS LIBRE, produced
by printing them on separate lines, serves chiefly as a means of
keeping the focus of attention upon the RHYTHM AS RHYTHM,
affecting thus both silent reading and oral delivery. This
"rhythm" held before our attention is not so much the
fundamental rhythmic experience, felt as prose or verse,
but rather the secondary or broader rhythmic grouping, in
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION xiii
which phrases, long and short, are balanced against each
other, according to that native instinct by means of which
we complacently make two and two equal five, so far as
interest is concerned. To the hunter the fleeing fox weighs
as much as the cows blocking his way. When once the
game of literary balancing is introduced, the separate spac-
ing of the phrases in free verse reminds us, gently but inevi-
tably: -"This is a phrase! This is a phrase!" In spite of
this fact, have we attained to anything that lifts us neces-
sarily out of prose experience? What is achieved, as a rule,
in Miss Lowell's case, is emotional prose, emphatically
phrased, excellent and moving. "Spaced prose," we may
call it. With other writers the result is often merely
unrhymed verse, with irregular length of line; or, as is
frequently apparent in the writings of Edgar Lee Masters,
a mosaic of bits of verse and bits of prose experience.
Miss Lowell delivers her vers libre with much more swing
and vim than one commonly hears in prose; but surely all
particularly vigorous prose, if it is to be valued as a fit
medium for vigorous thought and feeling, must also be thus
delivered. Colonel Roosevelt, in fact, delivers his own
prose with just as much " stress" and with just as much
"curve" to use Miss Lowell's defining terms in her ac-
count of vers libre as Miss Lowell contributes to her
"free verse." Where, then, is the preferential difference as
to form? If there is any difference in degree of stress, the
intensity is undoubtedly more pronounced in the delivery
of Colonel Roosevelt. When we hear him repeat the follow-
ing sentence from his History as Literature:
"The squat, slit-eyed, brawny horse-bowmen drew a red
furrow across Hungary";
or, out of his African Game Trails, this:
"The dim, yellow smear in the yellow-brown grass was a
xiv PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
the effect is fittingly big. To space in separate lines
the phrases in these sentences would, indeed, draw a
"red furrow" of self-consciousness around the rhythm as
rhythm; but would not this very process reduce to a corre-
spondingly "dim smear" Colonel Roosevelt's splendid
W. M. P.
March 31, 1917.
The Indian's keen sense of rhythm. A lost art. Aggress- Page
ively rhythmic timers. Their ability to organize subjec-
tively any haphazard series. Prose as a more or less
haphazard series of sounds. Who is aggressive? The
importance of an accurate sense of tune. The sense of
"swing." Facility and pleasure in automatic syncopation.
The ability to evoke a series of subjective time-measuring
pulses. The limitations of a typical "stresser." Unitary
pulses as an explanatory factor in music and folk-dancing.
Ease, spontaneity, and fitness, as standards of excellence in
comparing rhythmic experiences. Clear-cut rhythmic ex-
perience impossible without a subjective scale of time.
Such a scale to be found in elastic unitary pulses. The
subjective organization of all experience according to this
THE NEW STANDAKD
The interest of the problem. Wundt's suggestion. The
present experiments described. The spontaneous creation
of a rhythmic tune as a factor in the subjective organization
of irregular sequences. Motor response. Meumann and
Wundt. Their failure to recognize the importance of
"elastic" units, spontaneous substitution, and syncopation.
Syncopation explained. Complicated syncopating tasks
accomplished by observers with very little musical training.
The secret of such accomplishment. Primitive rhythmic
sense. The principle of "occult balance." Spontaneous
substitution explained. Sievers. His neglect of syncopa-
tion. Individual difference. Observer No. 7 contrasted
with Observer No. 10. The codrdination theory illustrated.
The walking-step. Its unduly regulating influence. Page
The endless possibilities of accelerating and retarding units,
substitution, and syncopation. Wundt's suggestion experi-
mentally established with certain limitations. The experi-
ence of aggressive timers the basis of a new standard for
discussing the rhythm of prose. Stress-patterns subordi-
nate to the time-patterns which they help to mark. Motor
response the test of rhythm in prose. Prose rhythm a
consistent, more or less clear-cut, "unified" experience for
an aggressive timer 1
Brucke's experiments vitiated. Bolton's comprehensive study.
Meumann's signal contribution. Binet and Courtier's
musical studies. Sievers. His objection to experimental
phonetics obviated by recourse to sound photography. His
theories on speech-melody unsubstantiated by convincing
data. Flat contradiction between his fundamental empha-
sis upon the time-element in connection with rhythm and the
application of his two-beat theory for old English verse.
Wallin's interesting experiments with Tennyson and Brown-
ing. MacDougalTs subordination of stress in rhythmic
experience. Stetson's motor theory of rhythm, involving
the activity of two opposing sets of muscles. Bingham's
motor theory for melody. Scripture. Inaccuracy con-
nected with phonograph records. The rhythm of work.
Bucher and Miss Smith. Squire's genetic study of rhythm.
The validity of unitary pulses. Time the basis of
rhythm. Marbe and Lipsky. Their method superficial.
Brown. Rhythm primarily temporal. Wundt. Sen-
sations in the joints and muscles as the primary origin of
time-images. All life upon a basis of vibration. Possi-
bility of considering all irregular movements as rhythmic
fragments. Benussi's three factors in time-perception.
Vender's belief in a natural rhythm or "vocal step" for each
person. Landry's discussion of "weight." Saran's criti-
cism of Sievers for confusing rhythm and accent. Artistic
prose regarded by Saran as chiefly "rhythmless." Schipper
and Sievers involved in contradiction between their defini-
tions of rhythm and their application of Sievers's five Page
"types" in connection with Old English verse. Saints-
bury's self-confessed defeat. Ruckmich's valuable con-
tribution. Weld's study of musical enjoyment. Sea-
shore. Thomson's criticism of Lanier. Unitary pulses.
Neglect of individual difference in the sense of rhythm the
cause of past confusion 17
THE SENSE OF SWING
Elasticity explained as acceleration followed by compensative
retarding, or vice versa. Progressive motion. No one
sense of rhythm. Novelty of an objective test for the sense
of swing or the power to gauge progressive movement.
Time-intervals considered in terms of velocity. Illustration
with a stick and a steam-radiator. Description of the
laboratory test for swing. Various mental processes in-
volved. Graphs of the performance of certain individuals.
The sense of swing as an element in aggressively rhythmic
endowment. Tempo rubato 47
Illustration with a sentence from Walter Pater. Typical
schedules of the corresponding rhythmic tunes. Observer
No. 7's experience with haphazard series of drum-taps.
Detailed description of a rhythmic experience in connection
with the passage from Pater. Unitary pulses marked by
a series of what appear to be muscular tensions. Breath
phenomena. Suggestions received from the text. From
stress-patterns. The line of least resistance. Automatic
syncopation. Occurrence of pulses seldom coincident with
accented syllables. The drum-beat tune merely one ele-
ment in a larger fusion. Spontaneous substitution again
explained. The coordination theory illustrated by a regular
series of sounds concomitant with an irregular series. Il-
lustration from the music of Cyril Scott. Ratan Devi.
Schumann's "Traumerei." 62
Distinction between prose and verse. Typical prose-intervals Page
more or less irregular, but susceptible of subjective organiza-
tion by an aggressively rhythmic timer. Influence of
stress-patterns. Predominantly syncopating relations be-
tween the unitary pulses and accented syllables in the text
the condition of prose experience. Predominantly coinci-
dent relations the condition of verse experience. Synco-
pation and coincidence the only relations possible. No
tertium quid, therefore, between verse and prose except
confusion (when coordination ceases) or a bald mosaic . . 74
Prose rhythm not an elusive experience for the aggressively
rhythmic person. Mistaken ideas about prose rhythm.
Discriminative time-sense necessary for the valuation of
movement. Body-rhythm and body-balance distinguished.
Timers and stressers. Sievers and Schipper both incon-
sistent. Hidden symmetry. The rhythm of thought
according to the coordination theory. Possibilities of
speed-change increased in the rate of the measuring pulses.
General results of the investigation. A new definition of
rhythmic experience for each individual. A rough descrip-
tion of the experience of a timer. Wundt's statement ex-
perimentally established within certain limits. No series
of impressions that cannot be conceived as rhythmic.
Ease, spontaneity, and fitness as literary standards of
rhythmic excellence. Predominance of syncopation the
criterion of prose experience. Predominance of coincidence
the criterion of verse experience. Syncopation and sub-
stitution explained. Accent. "Aggressively rhythmic"
explained. Observers classified. Importance of rhythmic
tunes in subjective organization of haphazard material.
Mistaken ideas about the "development" of prose rhythm.
"Possibility scanning." No scientific basis for the applica-
tion of speech-melody to textual criticism. Application of
the standards of ease, spontaneity, and fitness. Caprice, Page
economy, and artistic adjustment as motives. Application
to rhetoric. To literary criticism. Importance of motor
response as a test. The ease with which rhythmic sense
may be developed. Practice in syncopation the secret . . 81
DESCRIPTION OF APPARATUS
Two laboratories. Construction of apparatus for securing
photographs of sound. New arrangement of lights.
Setting of mercury contacts for objective test of ability to
gauge progressive movement . 103
Table of contents. Thirty-four steps 107
Introductory note. List of observers. Pulse and breath.
Types of mental imagery. Ability to keep time (unit-
accuracy). Test for sense of swing. Walking-rate.
Test for pitch memory. Other memory tests. Records
obtained by sound-photography. Syncopation tests.
Tests with haphazard series of drum-beats. Unitary music.
Unitary pulses. Factors in organizing drum-beat series 129
INDEX . 189
THE music of contemporary savages, such as that of
the Kwakiutl, investigated by Professor Boas, 1 taunts us
with a lost art of rhythm. Modern sophistication has
inhibited many native instincts, and the mere fact that
our conventional dignity usually forbids us to sway our
bodies or to tap our feet when we hear effective music,
has deprived us of unsuspected pleasures. Certain it is
that the facility of the American Indian in the execution
of syncopating rhythms is matched in most of us by a
thoroughly blunted process, characterized by hesitation
and awkwardness. Any attempt, accordingly, to regain an
instinctive grasp over rhythmic problems, such as we may
readily believe was possessed by our primitive ancestors,
is quite hopeless, until we revert to the testimony of naive
experience, and the progressive results of actual motor
The significant fact to be gleaned from the experimental
data listed in Appendix III is that the most comprehensive
form of rhythmic experience occurs with individuals like
Observer No. 7, a professional musician, whose mental and
physical reactions may be described as "aggressively"
rhythmic. 2 Such persons are capable of feeling a con-
sistent and continuous experience of organized rhythm
when confronted with haphazard series of sounds of any
nature (within the limits of "time-discrimination thresh-
olds" and "attention spans"). The impressions of
accented and unaccented "syllables" in freely uttered
1 Boas, F., The Kwakiutl Indians, U. S. Nat. Mus. Rep. for 1895.
8 Of course, no two individuals ever react exactly alike. The
term "type" is in many ways a highly misleading fiction.
xxii INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE
prose usually suggest haphazard arrangement. To the
aggressively rhythmic person a passage of spoken prose,
whose measured intervals (between accents) display the
utmost objective irregularity, can be organized subjectively
and give pleasure according to the varying facility of the
process and the varying emotional suggestiveness attending
it. To those who are deficient in rhythmic aggressiveness,
such a haphazard series frequently produces vague "im-
pressions" of elusive rhythm, but never the consistent,
more or less complete experience possible to the opposite
Who, then, is "aggressive"? The man who exactly
remembers definite words he has uttered or precise move-
ments he has executed in his dreams; who can not only
hear the puffs of a locomotive, when they happen to be
objectively even, group themselves subjectively into a tune
of two's or four's, but who can also change this tune at
will; who can keep strict time when he chooses, but whose
confident sense of "swing" allows him also to gauge and
enjoy progressive acceleration and retarding; who finds
syncopation 3 pleasant and easy; and, finally, who can
summon without effort, like the Indian, an inner series
of time-beats, "elastic" 4 because capable of accelerating
or retarding, and "unitary" because not necessarily grouped
in a succession of two's or three's. With these "elastic
unitary pulses" any haphazard series, by means of syn-
copation, can be readily, because instinctively, coordinated.
The result is that a "rhythmic tune," compounded of time
and stress and pitch relations, is created, the chief char-
* By syncopation is meant the correlation of at least two sets
of time-intervals, concomitant but not coincident as when a negro
dancer taps with his feet just half-way between the hand-claps of
those who are accompanying his performance. More complicated
forms occur when an Indian sings a melody in three-tune, against
a tom-tom accompaniment in four-time, etc.
4 For a discussion of "elasticity" see beginning of Chapter III.
INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE xxiii
acteristic of which is likely to be complicated syncopation.
An arabesque of accentual differences, group-forming in
their nature, is superimposed upon the fundamental time-
To the person who cannot easily evoke a subjective
series of time-measuring pulses, such as appear objectively
in the American Indian's "pulsation of the voice on sus-
tained notes, " 6 rhythmic experience must continue to be
chiefly concerned with alternation of stress, and the
patterns of "metre" familiar in routine scanning. In
place of the relatively clear-cut temporal experiences of the
aggressively rhythmic mind, wherein stress has an indis-
pensable yet not overestimated function, he substitutes a
reaction, capable of vigor, but innocent of subtlety; for
the discrimination and measurement of intensity is ac-
knowledged by physicists, physiologists and psychologists,
as the chief snag in objective valuations. Our perception
of time is blurred enough, but our perception of exact
degrees of stress is hopelessly inaccurate. It turns out,
therefore, that the "stresser," even in his own department
of interest, is likely to rank below the aggressive "timer"
with regard to precision.
In considering unitary pulses it may prove of assistance
to examine our experience in listening to Schumann's
"Traumerei," while attempting to beat time to it regard-
less of the printed notation. We need not be astonished
to find that from the first to the second chief accent in
the melody five quarter-note pulses occur. This group of
five beats is followed by phrases which may be felt either
as groupings of six, five, five, etc., or as groupings of four,
four, three, five, etc. Here is a piece of music, the uni-
versally popular appeal of which is unquestioned, that
shifts its successive grouping rapidly. The unifying
temporal element is the series of subjective quarter-note
1 Curtis, N., The Indian's book, N. Y., 1907, p. xxvii.
xxiv INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE
beats or unitary pulses, regardless of the size of the clusters
into which they are grouped, since these are significant
only in the broader effects of phrasing. This principle
furnishes a key to many previously unanswered problems.
On no other basis, for instance, can the sudden shifts of
measure in folk-dancing be explained. Such shifts are
known among all races. They are "an unmistakable
characteristic," says Steenstrup, 6 "of the music of olden
times, especially of folk-music." As a modern example, he
cites the dancing of the peasants of Oberpfalz, which
changes rapidly, back and forth, between three-time and
four-time. Whatever varied effects of stress-grouping may
be superimposed, the primary binding element, unfailingly
potential in the aggressively rhythmic consciousness, is a
series of more or less elastic unitary pulses. But, of course,
our conventional notation continues to cloud all such
Prose rhythm must always be classed as subjective
organization of irregular, virtually haphazard, arrange-
ments of sound. 7 The experience, when judged by a
standard of excellence, implies a requisite of fitness between
thought and movement, in addition to ease and spontane-
ity. This appropriateness does not figure in the subjective
organization of a haphazard series of drum-beats or of
purely musical sounds. The ultimate basis of all rhythmic
experience, however, is the same. To be clear-cut, it must
rest upon a series of definite temporal units. When once
we have established ease in the institution of unitary
pulses, whose progressive accelerating and retarding we can
6 Steenstrup, J. C. H. R., The medieval popular ballad, trans, by
Cox, E. G., N. Y., 1914, p. 165.
T For a "timer" the definition of prose as distinguished from
verse experience depends upon a predominance of syncopation over
coincidence in the coordination of the accented syllables of the text
with the measuring pulses.
INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE xxv
gauge, it becomes possible, by means of instinctive syncopa-
tion and freely operating substitution, 8 to coordinate
rhythmically with our sense of time all the movements of
our every-day existence. The dance of death is quite
balanced by the possibilities of a dance of life.
8 The division of a pulse-interval into several equivalent shorter
intervals, or the combination of several unit intervals into an equiva-
lent longer interval. According to this latter function unitary pulses
may appear in clusters even in recurrent clusters. What remains
characteristic of them is that the progression from any one pulse to
the next is felt by certain observers to be part of a fundamental
rhythmic experience underneath the grouping, whatever this happens
to be. Where this feeling does not exist, unitary pulses, with a
pleasurable motor reaction of their own, cannot be said to occur.
THE RHYTHM OF PEOSE
THE NEW STANDARD
MOST of us respond with a thrill of pleasure to the
"occult balance" of a swiftly moving sail-boat, tilted,
between strain of wind and weight of ballast, at some
rakish angle. Unfortunately for science, OUT attention
wanes and our perceptions blur as soon as we attempt to
analyze either the pleasure or the "balance." For the
layman, the promise of new forms of pleasure is the only
successful lure to assisting at such an investigation.
The tilt of rhythmic experience in connection with prose
is likely to be more than rakish; there are times when to
some the boat seems quite on the awkward edge of up-
setting, and even when the going is at its best, the forces
that make for balance are so obscure that the average
mind resents any effort to single them out. It is only on
the chances of hitting upon some new savor of excitement
that even the literary man will consent to prowl within
the neighborhood of a psychological laboratory. To learn
from Wundt 1 that "no series of impressions is possible
that cannot in some way be comprehended as rhythmic"
is a matter of small concern until we suddenly discover
that by listening for rhythm in irregular sequences, in the
criss-cross lapping of many waves upon the shore, in the
syncopating cries of a flock of birds, in the accelerating
1 Wundt, W., Grundzuge d. physiolog. Psychologic, Leipzig, 1911,
III, p. 53.
2 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
and retarding quivers of a wind-blown tree, we have found
a new form of pleasure that embraces in its field every
moment of our conscious life.
The first object of the present experiments 2 was to find
out, as far as possible, how a group of twelve people, ten
men and two women, differed with respect to the complex
of mental processes usually designated roughly as the
"sense of rhythm." After they had been ranked according
to the nature of their reactions and achievements in various
tests, one of the group, Observer No. 1, who had evinced
a measure of ease in rapid tapping, was chosen to make
drum-beat records on a phonograph. A sentence from
Walter Pater, a sentence from Henry James, a passage
of music from Chopin, a haphazard arrangement of words,
and a haphazard arrangement of musical notes, were
tapped upon a small metal drum, and the beats recorded
by the phonograph. The words were tapped according
to the syllables as felt, a tap for each syllable. "Hours,"
for instance, was given two beats. The notes were tapped,
as far as possible, according to their designated tune-
values. Observer No. 1, having had long training as a
musician, found no technical difficulty in the task. The
remaining eleven observers, without being told the source
of the records, heard the five series of drum-beats, and
passed judgment upon them. The most significant judg-
ment made was that of Observer No. 7, who declared that
all five records gave him the impression of regular musical
themes. A large number of the observers, especially on
the first hearing, found all of the records, including even
the passage from Chopin, elusive and more or less irregular.
An attempt was then made, by means of accompanying
schedules, to find out how much or how little organization
each observer could be brought to feel in the beats cor-
2 For a detailed account of the experiments, see Appendices I,
II, and III.
THE NEW STANDARD 3
responding to the passage from Walter Pater, and the
passage of haphazard musical notes.
The indications are that for many observers the great
secret in subjectively organizing what objectively appear
to be irregular sequences, lies in the spontaneous or sug-
gested creation of a "rhythmic tune." An attempt to
hum what is heard or the hearing of humming by others
helps to initiate motor response; and motor response,
whether it be nodding the head, or moving the eyes, the
tongue, or the throat, or beating time with the hands or
feet, or anything else, tends to fall into the form of a
series, accompanying the humming at points where the
possibility of regular intervals is suggested. It is a com-
monly accepted fact that all repeated movement tends
thus to become regular. 3
Here is where we strike large gaps in the results of pre-
vious investigations (see Chapter II, "Historical Survey").
For some strange reason, even Meumann and Wundt fail
to keep before their eyes three important factors, familiar
to every musician: first, the possibility of accelerating or
retarding a series of regular motions without destroying
the impression of rhythm; second, the possibility of
substituting at any time (i.e., spontaneously) one long
time-interval for several equivalent short ones, or vice
versa; third, the possibility of preserving a certain series
of time-intervals, but of changing in various ways the
nature of the motions or sensations that mark the beats.
This last is what we mean by syncopation. To be sure,
all three factors are mentioned, especially the first and
second; but statements are constantly made in which
their influence is neglected. As for syncopation, it is
usually completely forgotten.
1 Scripture, E. W., Elements of experimental phonetics, N. Y.,
1902, p. 525; see also Miyaki, I., Researches on rhythmic action,
Yale Psy. St., X, 1902, p. 4. .
4 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
Syncopation, in itself, involves a complex of mental
processes. The most essential part of the phenomenon
seems to be that we keep our impression of a series of
subjective time-intervals, regular, accelerating or retarding,
but find a pleasure in marking the beats objectively,
either by different forms of motion, such as foot-taps
alternating with hand-taps, or by what appears at first as
an omission of objective marking for certain beats. As a
matter of fact, this is usually nothing but the interpolation
of some concealed form of motor reaction, such as an eye,
throat, tongue, or breath movement, which alternates with
a more visible movement, such as nodding or tapping or
dancing. OUT ability to syncopate thus depends largely
on our ability to coordinate. It is also possible for the
impressions usually associated with syncopation to occur
in connection with a train of mental images. In order to
maintain a syncopating scheme successfully, it seems to be
a universal experience that the accents dividing the series
of temporal units into groups should be strongly marked.
This would mean that when the last beat of a bar of
regular musical notation is tied over to the first beat of
the next bar, this second beat, which thus loses its objective
discreteness, needs to be very firmly felt on the subjective
side, by both performer and listener. The rhythmic con-
sciousness in rag-time is "tremendous." 4
In order for the non-musical person to understand clearly
what is meant by syncopation, he should undertake the
following experiment: Count 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4- continu-
ously to yourself with an accent on every "1" that is,
on the beginning of each group of four. After about ten
seconds, begin to tap with your finger on a table every
time you say "2" and "4." Internally you are still to
4 Puffer, E. (Mrs. Howes), The psychology of beauty, Boston and
New York, 1905, p. 168.
THE NEW STANDARD 5
accent every "1." This is a simple form of syncopation.
Now try a more difficult one. Count 1-2-3-1-2-3-, etc., to
yourself with an accent on every "1." After a few seconds,
while still counting, tap your finger just as you say "1"
and just after you say "2." You will then be making a
rough approximation to beating two-time against three-
time that is, the time-interval which you are dividing
into three parts by suppressed articulation, you are dividing
into two parts by your finger-taps. The process involves
syncopation because the motions and sensations, or images
of motions and sensations by means of which you mark
the time, undergo a certain amount of interchange or
alternation. If you were to hear another person tapping
three's with one hand and two's with the other, it might
be possible for you to hear the result in the form of a
"rhythmic tune" in which you felt no interchange of
motor response or sound sensation, but merely heard a
series of taps, differing in intensity but not in land,
separated by intervals, whose size depends upon the
pattern of the rhythmic tune. The element of substitution
mentioned in a previous paragraph is here in operation,
but the true syncopating element is absent, or, at any
rate, somewhat disguised.
The importance, however, of hearing first the rhythmic
tune of two's against three's, performed correctly by
another person, before attempting to tap two's against
counted three's (true syncopation) cannot be overestimated.
As a result of the experiments described later, 6 the writer
has found that it is possible for observers with virtually no
training in music to learn very quickly to tap even so
complicated a syncopating scheme as five against seven
with a fair degree of success, provided they approach the
task, not as a mathematical problem involving five and
* Appendices II and III, section xxiv in each case.
6 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
seven and their multiple, thirty-five; but by hearing some
one else, who has learned to do it, perform the rhythmic
tune. Actual measurements on the kymograph show that
the pattern of time-intervals, if heard naively, is not
difficult to reproduce. By humming the combination as
"one, two-and, three, and-four, five-and, six, and-seven," and
learning that the "and" in " two-and" is just a little
closer to two than it is to three, that the "and" in "and-
seven" is just a little closer to seven than to six, and that
the "and" in "and-four" and "five-and" is exactly half
as far away from its respective number as the "and" in
"two-and," the rhythmic tune is ready for application in
the form of syncopation. While the observer, having
learned the tune with an approximation of correctness,
hums the counting scheme, he taps with his finger every
time he says "one," and every time he says "and." The
result is that by omitting the uttered "and's" and tapping
his finger in their place he is beating "five's" against
"seven's" in true syncopating fashion without necessarily
knowing it! The most astonishing part of the performance
is that if the observer reproduces the rhythmic tune
correctly, he is using intervals the smallest of which is one
thirty-fifth of the distance from "one" to "one," the
others ranging from two to five thirty-fifths. This means
that, without realizing it, he is counting in thirty-fives.
The process soon becomes automatic.
This would all seem to imply, then, that the mysterious
awe with which we regard the rhythmic proficiency of
some of our American Indians, for instance, may have to
be lessened. Our astonishment should be directed, not so
much at their having perpetuated what is, after all, a
fairly simple trick, as at our own stupidity in losing the
trick, in the use of which, for all we can guess from the
ancient records of our East Indian cousins, our primitive
drum-beating ancestors could leave the Western Indians
THE NEW STANDARD 7
far behind. Nevertheless, speaking of the music of the
Omahas, Fillmore remarks 6 that in "rich variety and com-
plexity of rhythm" it "excels most of our civilized music
by a great deal. Our most elaborate compositions for
orchestra have no rhythms more difficult or more complex
than have these short songs; and our popular music is
incomparably simpler in rhythm than is the popular music
of the Omahas."
In this connection it should be note'd that in the regular
experiments 7 even the professional musician, Observer
No. 7, failed utterly at the task of beating "five's" against
"seven's" so long as it was approached from the purely
numerical basis; on the other hand, there were very few
of the group who failed within twenty minutes to reproduce
with a measure of success the seven-five rhythmic tune
at a moderate tempo, and to execute the syncopating
performance by means of it. The measurements listed are
for their achievement at a fairly rapid rate of speed, which
reduced the number of successful performances.
The way in which primitive man could have developed
such facility is easy to imagine. Two men happen to be
beating their drums at the same time in different quarters.
One is tapping two's; the other one, three's. A third
man hears the rhythmic tune of the combination, and
proceeds to tap it later on his drum. It interests him;
so he plays with it in different ways. Knowing that the
original sounds came from a combination of two drums, he
taps with his stick to represent one drum, and with his
foot to represent the other. Once done, the task is easy, and,
of course, it might have been suggested in a dozen ways.
The factor of "substitution" is so often mentioned, and
is treated so fully in certain phases, that it seems surprising
Fillmore, J. C., Primitive rhythms, Congr. Rep. Anthrop., 1893,
7 Appendix III, section xxiv.
8 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
that it should ever be slighted. What seems to be for-
gotten chiefly is its function as an essential element in
"occult balance" or " substitutional symmetry," as it is
called by Puffer. 8 A small spot of red in one corner of a
Japanese print balanced against a much larger patch of
gray somewhere opposite, a goose flying north weighed
against a daisy bending to the south, a low, prolonged
murmur heard and weighed against a short, shrill cry
these are effects of substitution or compensation.
The principle is mentioned by Wundt. 9 He seems to be
singularly averse, however, to applying it in a thorough-
going way to arrangements of time-intervals. It is quite
generally accepted that pitch, stress, and duration are
constantly being substituted for each other as elements of
"accent" (used in the sense of emphasis); but the con-
templation of a series of time-intervals, varying in size, as
forming occult balances just as if they were spots and
spaces, seems foreign to both Wundt and Meumann. At
any rate, they both leave disconcerting gaps in their
discussion of rhythm, because of their failure to apply a
principle to which they are already committed.
The point at which Wundt and Meumann stop so short
can be made clear, perhaps, by the following rough Experi-
ment. Tap with one finger upon a table at any convenient
rate. Do not vary the intensity of the taps in such a
way as to form groups of two's or three's; simply beat a
series of "unitary pulses": "1-1-1-1-1, etc." Now begin
to substitute for a single tap all sorts of haphazard varia-
tions, in each case subdividing the unit time-interval into
as many equal short time-intervals as caprice may direct.
8 Puffer, E., Studies in symmetry, Harv. Psy. St., I, 1903, p. 529:
"A picture composed in substitutional symmetry is more rich in its
suggestions of motor impulse, and thus more beautiful, than an ex-
ample of geometrical symmetry."
Wundt, op. tit., Ill, p. 156.
THE NEW STANDARD 9
In this way the "1's" will still be tapped, but between
them will occur one, two, three, etc., extra taps. The sum
of the short intervals will, of course, in each case equal the
regular standard unit. Between every two successive
sums (equivalent to two consecutive standard intervals) a
judgment can be made as to the fact that although one
contains three taps and the other four, for instance, the
two are really equivalent. Brevity of interval compensates
for excess in number. Nothing could be simpler. When
the appointed time has passed, the main pulse returns,
and the sense of rhythm, as the results of the experiments
on the music of Cyril Scott 10 clearly demonstrate, follows
the march of the recurrent pulses.
This is different from the example given in a preceding
paragraph, where a "low, prolonged murmur" is balanced
against a "short, shrill cry." Pitch and stress elements in
the latter compensate for its brevity. This form of sub-
stitution is coming to be generally understood. It is the
recurrent, spontaneously varied form described in the
preceding paragraph, that has been neglected. Yet once
apply it to the problem of prose, and its import is far-
reaching. In fact, it may be felt to include syncopation,
which, together with the principle of elastic unitary pulses,
explains completely the subjective organization of hap-
Sievers n speaks of prose as breaking up into "Sprech-
takte" or "speech-bars," with a tendency to equal dura-
tion. One can even "beat time to artistic delivery."
Elsewhere, 12 too, he speaks of arbitrary changes of tempo,
depending on sense and mood. Of the manifold possi-
bilities of syncopation, however, he has taken virtually no
account; nor has he made any statement that goes beyond
10 Appendix III, section xxxi.
11 Sievers, E., Grundzuge d. Phonetik, 5th ed. Leipzig, 1901, p. 266.
u Ibid., p. 255.
10 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
Wundt and Meumann in connection with applying the
principle of spontaneous substitution to a series of unitary
pulses, where rhythm is maintained by a succession of
shorter time-intervals than those that lie between the chief
accents of a sentence. The truth of the matter is that
this shorter pulsing temporal unit can never be felt con-
sistently in prose unless we are keenly alive to the subtleties
of syncopation. This means that time-beats will have to
fall predominatingly upon unaccented syllables or within
the pauses between words; otherwise, either the prose will
be unduly "regulated" by an attempt to beat time, or else
the sense of a recurrent unit will be destroyed.
At this point individual difference proves to be of the
greatest significance. With those who possess or can
acquire the ability to correlate speech intervals with an
elastic under-unit, syncopating freely, and capable of
breaking up spontaneously into "substitutional" clusters,
the process either appears from the start as automatic or
soon becomes so. Moreover, it is as easy and natural for
a syncopating " timer" like Observer No. 7, as it is difficult,
if not impossible, for No. 10, whose rhythmic limitations
have been ascertained in the tests. In the first place, she
is deficient in auditory types of imagery, 13 she has difficulty
in learning anything by ear, and fails to remember accu-
rately fairly simple groups of vowel sounds. 14 More
significant still, her rank is quite low for all the tests in
syncopation, simple and complex, 15 and she finds little
interest in the process. Observer No. 7, on the other
hand, enjoys it thoroughly and scores high in his per-
formance of the tasks.
Granted that one has facility and interest in syncopation,
the application to prose of an elastic (accelerating and
retarding) time-unit is a simple matter, and can be made
" Appendix III, section iv. " Appendix III, section xiii.
15 Appendix III, sections xxii, xxiv.
THE NEW STANDARD 11
clear by the following rough experiment: Read any prose
sentence aloud several times, until what appears to be a
natural, easy swing for it is established. Then begin
walking up and down at a comfortable rate, capable of
being accelerated or retarded moderately, that is, without
reaching the extreme of being actually doubled or halved.
Now begin to read the sentence aloud again, while
walking, taking care, at first, to keep the two operations,
reading and walking, as separate as possible. If anything,
exaggerate irregularities in the reading. Then gradually
allow the sets of movements to merge into a combined
impression; in other words, catch the "rhythmic tune" of
the footsteps beating against the articulatory impulses
with a definite interest in every bit of syncopation detected
that is, in every spot where a footstep falls between two
syllables instead of coinciding with either one of them.
Having marked the most striking cases of syncopation,
begin to allow the reading of the sentence to affect the
rate of walking, rather than the reverse; i.e., accelerate
or retard to a moderate degree the walking-step wherever
the sense or the sound of the sentence may suggest. Con-
tinue reading and walking, but begin to concentrate more
and more upon the rhythmic tune, with its syncopating
possibilities, which will seldom fail to emerge into just such
forms as are indicated by the schedules employed in the
phonograph experiments. 16
In the actual laboratory tests the above correlation of
reading and walking-step was often obtained in a much
shorter time than it has taken to describe the process. It
must be remembered, however, that the walking-step (as
actually performed not imaged) is about the most
inelastic unit one could select, and is, consequently, very
likely to exert too much of a regulating influence on the
reading. The experiment is valuable because of its ease,
16 Appendices II and III, section xxix.
12 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
and is simplified by the fact that the walking-step is more
likely to be automatic in its operation, and thus not so
apt to cause confusion in one's first attempt to secure a
After succeeding with the walking-step, one should take
a new sentence and follow a different procedure: Read
the sentence aloud until a natural swing is achieved which
can be recognized and approximately repeated; then begin
to tap with one finger an elastic (accelerating and retarding)
serial accompaniment, with as much syncopation as possible.
Continue this, with the whole attention concentrated on
catching the rhythmic tune obtained by the combined
movements of finger and voice. As soon as the rhythmic
tune is caught sufficiently to be approximately repeated,
let the attention rest more upon the elastic temporal unit,
tapped by the finger, in order to notice its acceleration or
retarding. Then, finally, direct attention upon the sense
and swing of the sentence, and let the beating of time
become more and more automatic.
Any objections that might be urged against the possi-
bility of such an experience are refuted by the data ob-
tained from the present experiments 17 where most of the
observers found it easy to beat time to the phonographic
record of prose-beats made by Observer No. 1. The latter
was in no way influenced by objective time-beating, but,
quite spontaneously, with an automatic facility acquired
by years of musical training, tapped upon the drum a
series of beats, which on first hearing were judged by most
of the observers to be thoroughly irregular.
The truth of the matter is that the liberties allowed by
the introduction of an elastic unit, and the endless possi-
bilities of syncopation and substitution, render quite easy
to a musical observer the task of fitting a series of unitary
pulses to any series of irregular sounds (provided the
17 Appendix III, sections xxvii and xxix.
THE NEW STANDARD 13
sounds do not come too close together to be discriminated
or so far apart that they cannot easily be grasped as the
boundaries of a continuous interval). Whatever is not
explained by syncopation and substitution, is easily ex-
plained by acceleration and retarding. We must add to
all this the processes of so-called "subjective grouping,"
both voluntary and involuntary, by means of which our
perception of objective conditions, up to a certain degree,
comes under the distorting influence of "impressions."
Such illusions are fed by our enjoyment of the variegated
effects of subjective organization. What needs to be
remembered, then, is that for the individual, and conse-
quently for psychology, these illusions are in themselves
important "facts" of conscious life.
It is thus that we become aware of the phenomena
heralded by Wundt's general statement about the possible
rhythmic conception of all series of sounds, and exemplified
in the data listed in Appendix III. There are individuals
for whom a series of apparently irregular sounds can be
easily organized subjectively into a satisfying rhythmic
tune. There are also individuals for whom the task is
difficult, if not impossible. Prose thus becomes for some
observers a sort of music, built upon elastic unitary pulses,
sometimes grouped and always syncopating freely; but for
others, it remains, and must always remain, an utter
mystery, regarded either with indifference or as tantalizing
because of its constant suggestion of a rhythm never fully
achieved except in spots a so-called "free" amorphous
entity, identified merely by the chilling assurance that, at
any rate, it is not verse.
A new standard is thus established for passing judgment
upon the rhythm of a sentence or paragraph. The marking
of grammatical (dictionary) accent is by itself misleading,
except for the purpose of detecting passages of metrical
patchwork such as occur in the writings of Ingersoll, or
14 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
unusually long stretches of "iambics" such as have been
fished out of Dickens and Ruskin. The reason such
"scanning" is misleading, is simply that a slow reading of
some of our most unimpeachable prose turns it into just
such iambic or trochaic drivel, while a rapid reading of
some of the ridiculed passages introduces a varied swing
that competes (in ease, spontaneity and appropriateness)
with the very best. The stress-patterns of routine scanning
have thus little more than suggestive value, when con-
sidered apart from the molding influence of tone-color and
dominating mood or thought. On the other hand, the
stress-patterns of actual experience have great significance,
and when combined with the corresponding time, pitch,
quality and thought patterns, complete what we mean by
the rhythm of language.
The new standard has for its support not so much its
apparent novelty, as its subservience to the psychological
facts of individual difference. Observer No. 7 hears a
series of irregular prose beats. At first, he pronounces
them elusive; later they swing into full musical rank.
The rhythmic tune is even capable of approximate notation.
Observer No. 10 hears the series to the last as an elusive
aggregation of approximately unrelated sounds. Between
these two extremes are ranged perceptions of every degree
To test prose-rhythm, therefore, we do not merely mark
the accents with the ancient classic symbols, and admire,
with an optical delight, the "pseonic" or "dochmiac"
pattern presented. If rhythm means anything to the
average individual, it means motor response and a sense of
organized time. This is what it means in the playing of
flutes, the beating of drums, the singing of songs, and in
dancing. If it means something else in prose a new word
should be coined. But it is idle to claim that it means
anything but the same old spell the human race has always
THE NEW STANDARD 15
found in regulated motion the exciting and soothing
effect of beating time, of nodding the head, of swaying the
body, of tapping the feet and hands, or, finally, of sub-
stituting less obtrusive tensions and relaxations, by means
of which the time is marked. Whenever pure images take
the place of motor response, we feel that the rhythm is
weakened; so when our whole body becomes possessed
with the rhythmic pulse, the impression swells accordingly
to its climax.
What is left, then, but to conclude that the sentence
which has in its structure the possibility of a maximum of
rhythm must be capable of evoking in us a maximum of
motor response? To test it, therefore, we must tap to it,
nod to it, walk to it, sway to it, chop wood to it, if neces-
sary. To do this we must catch its drum-beat tune or
rather we must catch the most impelling of the infinite
variety of rhythmic tunes which are possible for every
sentence, good or bad. If it is easy for us to nod or tap
or, for that matter, hoe potatoes to these salient "drum-
songs" in which syncopation and substitution have free
range the first degree of rhythmic excellence is obtained.
A maximum of ease with a maximum of complication adds
to this a higher degree of technical merit. If, finally, the
associations and suggestions connected with the motor
response are appropriate to the mood and thought of the
sentence, there is nothing left to be desired.
From this pinnacle, nevertheless, we must fall to the
realization that such enthusiasm means nothing and will
ever mean nothing to the self-conscious individual who
finds himself a prey to the inhibitions of modern society,
the sedate victim of dignity, who dares not climb a tree
or handle an axe, whose natural rhythmic response is
attenuated, and whose images of time are consequently
blurred, whose coordinating processes are so obstructed
that it is impossible for syncopation to be instinctively
16 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
enjoyed, or even understood. In spite of all these "de-
ficiencies" or "differences," such persons may occupy the
highest ranks of purely intellectual eminence. To such
passively rhythmic individuals, prose will continue to be
prose as usually described the mere negation of verse.
To the aggressively rhythmic, it is like everything else in
life at its root lies a subjective "scheme," just as
binding in its way as that of verse, only less obvious. It
is the rhythm of conscious existence, announced so clearly,
whether intended or not, by William James in his descrip-
tion of our sense of time as "Now! Now! Now!"
EXPERIMENTAL work upon the rhythm of speech virtually
begins with Brticke. 1 His conclusion, however, that the
feet in verse are temporally equal, has to be disregarded,
not only because of the crudity of his apparatus but because
his subjects were instructed to scan in a mechanical fashion.
In 1893 Bolton 2 produced the first and what is so far the
last attempt to cover the field of rhythm as a whole. In
1894 came Meumann's signal contribution. For Meumann
rhythm is a mental process by means of which we group
sensations of sound into a system of images arranged upon
a temporal basis. 3 But besides this type of rhythm he
describes a rhythm of the thoughts themselves capable of
disturbing strictly temporal relations. Phrases may in this
way be considered as units and similar groups recur with
satisfactory effect at unequal intervals of time. 4
Two tendencies thus appear in verse one toward
order, one toward freedom. In fact, a certain lawlessness
is natural to poetic rhythm. Absolute regularity is un-
bearable. Meumann expresses his surprise at Hermann
Paul's naive acceptance of Briicke's theory of equal bars.
He concedes the validity of Bolton's statement that there
1 Brticke, E. W., Die physiologischen Grundlagen d. neuhochd. Vers-
kunst, Wien, 1871.
2 Bolton, T. L., Rhythm, Amer. J. of Psy., VI, 1894, p. 145 ff.
* Meumann, E., Untersuchungen z. Psych, u. Aesth. d. Rhythmus,
Philos. Stud., X, 1894, p. 272 ff.
4 Ibid., p. 305.
18 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
is a tendency to slow up or to hasten the number of
elements in a group in order to make the group fit the
natural attention period, 5 and that this develops in verse
as a tendency to preserve regular intervals from one chief
accent to another; but he maintains that there is present
also a disorganizing influence that can be traced back to
three sources: melody interest, tempo changes due to
feeling, and finally logical groupings, cutting across the
temporal divisions. Meumann should have emphasized
the fact that a similar tendency toward freedom, whatever
may be regarded as its source, is present in regular music.
The neglect of this incontestable truth accounts in part
for the inability of all attempts up to the present to make
quite clear what there is in common between music and
verse to say nothing of music and prose. Experi-
mentally this has received very little attention.
Meumann contends that the intellectual processes are
always present in rhythm and that the organic phenom-
ena are only accompaniments. 6 Breath adapts itself to
rhythm. 7 There is most organization when least feeling.
Titchener, however, has brought to notice what seems to
be a contradiction in Meumann's attitude toward rhythm,
inasmuch as M. K. Smith 8 leads us to infer that later,
at least, Meumann regarded rhythm as an "emotion dis-
charging itself in ordered movement," rather than as a
To the present writer the most signal gaps in Meumann's
investigation appear to result from his failure to appreciate
the full meaning and possibilities of acceleration and
retarding on the one hand, and of syncopation on the
other, as means of bringing what are apparently temporal
* Meumann, E., Untersuchungen z. Psych, u. Aesth. d. Rhythmus,
Philos. Stud., X, 1894, p. 405 8.
Op. tit., p. 272. 7 Ibid., p. 270. -
8 Smith, M. K., Rhythmus u. Arbeit, Philos. Stud., XVI, 1900.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 19
irregularities into a musically accepted scheme that shall
be both simple and clear. Throughout his work, more-
over, the tremendous opportunities for adducing the
principle of substitutional equivalence or occult balance as
an explanatory factor in the perception of elusive rhythm,
have been almost entirely disregarded.
In 1895 Binet and Courtier 9 made researches on the
irregularity of supposedly equal musical intervals when
played even by expert performers. In successions of five
notes it was found that the faster the notes were played
the more irregular were the intervals. 10 In 1897 Courtier u
concluded that the memory for tones and the memory for
rhythm do not always go together. About the same time
Meyer 12 maintained that the rhythm of song and poetry is
directly perceived only as motor rhythm and only by the
person who sings or recites. In other words, it is only
indirectly perceived by the auditor through the movements
From this time on the accounts of various researches
begin to multiply at an increasing rate until a sort of lull
is reached after 1913. Hurst and McKay 13 investigate the
time relations in verse. Lanier's theory of regular musical
relations based upon a normal bar is felt to be untenable. 14
Guest is criticized for ignoring the time element, and
comment is made upon Gummere's admitting tune merely
as a regulative element. Hurst and McKay contend that
9 Binet and Courtier, Recherches graphiques sur la musique,
L'Annee Psychol, II, 1895, p. 201.
10 Ibid., p. 215.
11 Courtier, J., Communication sur la memoire musicale, III Inter.
Kongr. f. Psy., Miinchen, 1897, p. 240.
12 Meyer, E. A., Beitrdge z. deutsch. Metrik, Die neu. Spr., VI,
1896, p. 122.
1J Hurst, A. S., and McKay, J., Experiments on the time relations of
poetical meters, Univ. of Toronto St., Psy. Ser., Ill, 1899.
" Ibid., p. 158.
20 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
both time and accent may occasionally be ignored, allowing
the thought alone to regulate the rhythm. 16 As a result
of their research an approximately uniform length of foot
is established, but the iamb is found to be longer on an
average than the trochee. 16
Shaw and Wrinch 17 maintain that each person has for
his unit of time a certain interval which may vary, how-
ever, on different occasions. This unit of time is a psychic
compound and is the basis for estimating intervals.
Schumann's theory is criticized. Feelings of expectation
and surprise do not mediate the estimation of the intervals,
as Schumann would have us believe. 18 This unit of time
is close to half a second, 19 and corresponds to what Verrier
later applies to speech rhythm as a "vocal step."
In 1901 appeared the fifth edition of Sievers's Phonetik.
In Vorwort XI he appears inclined to oppose experimental
phonetics, commenting upon the inevitable self-conscious-
ness involved in using mouth-pieces, etc. The instrument
for photographing sound, constructed by Dr. Pegram and
the author, seems to obviate entirely this disadvantage.
Like Meumann, Sievers 20 speaks of two antagonistic
rhythmic tendencies, one toward freedom and variety, the
other toward equal "Sprechtakte." It is significant that
he mentions the possibility of beating time to artistic
declamation. 21 He finds a tendency for prose to be divided
into sections of approximately equal duration, which can ap-
pear even when the separate "Sprechtakte" seem of unequal
15 Hurst. A. S., and McKay, J., Experiments on the time relations of
poetical meters, Univ. of Toronto St., Psy. Ser., Ill, 1899, p. 162.
18 Ibid., p. 166.
17 Shaw, M. A., and Wrinch, S. F., A contribution to the psychology
of time, Unit, of Tor. St., Psy. Ser., II, 1899, p. 121.
18 Ibid., p. 124. Ibid., p. 129.
10 Sievera, E., Grundzuge der Phonetik, Leipzig, 5th ed., 1901, p.
11 Ibid., p. 266.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 21
duration. The later work of Sievers 22 is colored by his
interest in speech melody, but for his generalizations in
this direction he seems as yet to have adduced no definite
and convincing data.
Sievers is known to have a delicate ear for musical
effects, so that it is extremely puzzling that although he so
often discusses the time-relations in rhythm, he should give
them such scant treatment in these studies of speech
melody. 23 "The individuality of a melody is absolutely
dependent," says Puffer, 24 "on its rhythm, that is, on the
relative time-value of its tones." Gurney makes similar
statements. The case is plain if we take the stirring tune
of "Dixie," for instance. Play it or sing it with an equal
time-interval for each change in pitch, and it becomes a
melancholy tune, indeed. No doubt the objective irregu-
larity in the temporal-intervals of speech is chiefly to blame
for their being shelved in the discussion. The missing key,
of course, has to be supplied by a lucid explanation of the
processes by means of which a highly rhythmic observer,
such as No. 7 hi the present series of experiments, is able
to evoke subjective order out of objective chaos.
In the "Metrische Studien," Sievers, adopting Saran's
definitions, refers to "time-organization and stress-grada-
tion" as "by far the most important" among the factors in
rhythm. 25 Elsewhere, 26 he indicates that the "feet" in
alliterative verse approximate "equal duration." No
"timer" in the past could have quarreled with this attitude.
22 Zur dlteren Judith, Prag, 1908; Rhythmisch-melodische Studien,
13 Sievers, E., Rhythmisch-melodische Studien, Heidelberg, 1912, p.
10 ff., p. 41 ff.
24 Puffer, E., The psychology of beauty, p. 185.
K Sievers, Metrische Studien, Kon. sdch. Ges. d. Wiss. Abh. phil.-
hist. KL, XXI, p. 31.
* Sievers, Zur Rhyth. d. germ. Alliterationsverses, BeitrOge z. Gesch.
d. deut. Sprache, X, 1885, p. 221.
22 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
Our wonder is consequently all the greater when we find
that Sievers's two-beat theory for Old English verse, in its
application, at any rate, falls back upon the assumption
that time is not so important a factor as we imagined.
This is discussed later in the chapter in connection with
Schipper, who adopts the two-beat theory, after committing
himself, more inextricably than Sievers, to a strict time
basis for poetical rhythm.
Wallin 27 has shown to what an extent the mere visual
arrangement of language in schematic lines instead of a
straightforward succession of words is often the only
effective aid in distinguishing verse from prose. Deprived
of this aid, three subjects declared verses of Tennyson and
Browning to be prose. Only one out of a group pronounced
Browning poetry. 28 Wallin advises using the interval
between centroids as a unit of measure, and thus dispenses
with bar and foot as terms. 29 Prose observes no systematic
arrangement of the intervals. 30 Westphal, Lotze, and
Lamer emphasize tune as the basis of rhythm; Guest,
Gummere, and others maintain the importance of stress.
The centroid theory is concerned with both time and
stress. Time and rhythm, however, are not on the same
basis; rhythm is less a matter of judgment than of feeling
or "a rhythmic sense." The experiments show that
trochaic rhythm appears more pleasing than iambic.
Lovers of melody and harmony prefer slower tempos than
those which appear most pleasing to observers whose
endowment is chiefly rhythmical. 31 The larger fluctuations
of attention alone may possess power to attune and cadence
the soul. 32 Such a hypothesis would make it possible for
prose to be considered as a rhythmical succession of fairly
long segments marked off by the crests of attention.
17 Wallin, J. E. W., Researches on the rhythm of speech, Yale Pa.
St., IX, 1901. K Ibid., p. 64. " Ibid., p. 113.
10 Ibid., p. 114. Ibid., p. 216. Ibid., p. 142.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 23
MacDougall 33 reviews the various estimates that have
been computed for the "indifference point" or easiest
interval of time in which a sensible object can be clearly
grasped. According to different authorities it varies from
about .375 sec. to .775 sec. The artistic effect of rhythm 34
is not due to any objective physical relations of time and
so forth, but is simply due to arousing in an observer a
feeling of pleasure, equivalence, perfection. The conditions
of a rhythmic impression are recurrence, accentuation, and
rate; but rhythmic forms are not rhythm until they initiate
movement. 36 In any case there is "properly no repetition
of identical sequences"; variation is always present. 36 "If
the temporal conditions be not fulfilled (and the subject
cannot create them) no impression of rhythm is possible."
Accent, however, may be easily contributed by the ob-
server. 37 By "rate" is meant the rate at which rhythm
can be readily perceived not too fast, not too slow.
Stress alone cannot make rhythm; the sense or impression
of temporal equivalence is the sine qua non. 38
Irregular movements, according to Miyaki, have a
"constant tendency to become rhythmical, notwithstanding
the voluntary effort of the subject to execute the move-
ments at irregular intervals." 39 In this connection it
should be remembered that Meumann 40 has already made
clear the fact that all regular or rhythmical movements
tend to become automatic and that this automatism is of
great service to a performer in the matter of keeping time.
w MacDougall, R., Rhythm, time, and number, Am. J. of Psy.,
XIII, 1902, p. 93 ff.
84 MacDougall, The structure of simple rhythm forms, Ha.ro. Ps.
St., I, 1903, p. 310.
34 Ibid., p. 319. M Ibid., p. 319.
7 Ibid., p. 321. Ibid., p. 352.
19 Miyaki, I., Researches on rhythmic action, Yale Psy. St., X, 1902,
40 Meumann, op. cit., p. 316.
24 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
In Miner's researches 41 rhythm is found to be most
pleasant when a motor response is reinforced by sensations
accompanying the regular rhythms of the body. Once
instituted it is fostered because it serves the purpose of
economy. Rhythm is defined neither as a pure perception
nor as a pure emotion, but as "the uniform perception of
successive groups of objectively localized sensations, accom-
panied by a characteristic emotional tone." Rhythm is
the "uniform recurrence of sensations of movement or
tension, concurring in regular periods with sensations from
an objective series of stimuli." A rhythm of smell, taste,
touch, and vision is just as possible as a rhythm of hear-
ing. 42 Visual rhythm is less distinct than auditory rhythm,
but just as direct. 43 "Both auditory and visual rhythm
seem to be illusions due to the muscular reaction of the
subject, combined with the sensations from objective
serial stimuli." u
According to Stetson, 45 rhythm assumes a movement
cycle involving the activity of two opposing sets of muscles.
"Every rhythm is dynamic; it consists of actual move-
ment." 46 "If the basis of rhythm is to be found in
muscular sensations, rather than in the supposed activity
of some special 'mental' function, the nature of the
movement cycle involved is of the greatest interest." 47
Upon this same muscular basis Bingham 48 founds his
motor theory for melody. "Rise in pitch is not merely
41 Miner, J. B., Motor, visual, and applied rhythms, Mon. Supp.,
Psy. Rev., V, 1903, p. 20.
42 Miner, op. tit., p. 40. Ibid., p. 71. " Ibid., p. 72.
46 Stetson, R. H., Rhythm and rhyme, Harv. Psy. St., I, 1903, p.
48 Stetson, Motor theory of rhyme and discrete succession, Psy.
Rev., XII, 1905.
47 Stetson, Rhythm and rhyme, p. 453.
48 Bingham, W. V. D., Studies in melody, Mon. Supp., Psy. Rev.,
XII, 1910, p. 86.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 25
a result of increased tension of the vocal apparatus: it
likewise produces increased muscular tension in the hearer.
A falling inflection at the close consequently serves to
hasten the relaxation process which marks the completion
of the melody." Two or more tones are felt to be related
when there is "community of organized response." The
effect of melody is a "ground-swell muscular process."
Scripture defines rhythmic movements as "movements
repeated at apparently equal intervals." 49 He advocates
the measurement of verse according to the centroid sys-
tem. 50 Speech is a "flow of auditory and motor energy,"
with no possibility of division into separate blocks such as
letters, syllables, words, feet, etc., except in a purely
arbitrary manner that does not represent the actual case. 61
A word has as many syllables as it is "felt" to have
centroids; but on account of the substitutional value of
pitch and duration in determining weight, "the centroid
will rarely coincide with the maximum of energy." 52 In
other words, factors besides intensity will have to be
considered in determining its position.
Various passages of spoken prose, recorded phonograph-
ically, have been measured at different times by Scripture;
and some of them, such as the speech by Depew, he
transcribes into musical notation. 83 No attempt is made,
however, to organize the transcription into regular bars.
The chief objection to be raised against his tables, in which
amplitudes of vibration in the phonographic record are
recorded in minute detail, is that no adequate corrections
are made for the errors of resonance pertaining to the pho-
" Scripture, E. W M The new psychology, London, 1898, p. 180.
60 Scripture, Elements of experimental phonetics, N. Y., 1902, p.
" Ibid., p. 550. " Ibid., p. 451.
M Scripture, Researches in experimental phonetics, Washington,
1906, p. 71.
26 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
nograph diaphragms employed in recording the speeches.
It is assumed that the resistance of the wax is just enough
to overcome by damping the exaggeration of amplitudes at
certain elevations of pitch. But even after diaphragms are
carefully calibrated and approximate corrections made, any
attempt to locate centroids in the continuum of ordinary
speech is likely to entail results of the most untrustworthy
nature. The best that objective measurement can do is to
obtain maxima of pitch elevation and maxima of recorded
amplitude. These together with elements of duration can
be separately listed, but to obtain the real intensities or to
combine the various factors making up a centroid into a
point of measurable distinctness seems to be more than we
can ever hope to achieve.
It was found by Sanford and Triplett M that when a
number of children were asked to tap nursery rhymes as
they recited them a variety of interpretations resulted.
As an example, hi the case of "Bye Baby Bunting," four
of the children gave four accents to the line, ten gave
three, and one gave two. It is interesting to note in this
connection that in Scripture's measurement of "Who killed
Cock Robin?" two centroids are assigned to the line, and
this proportionment is advocated as a proper index for the
schematic nature of the verse at any rate, for the particu-
lar version of it under consideration. 66 This, of course,
corresponds to the familiar theory of Coleridge, as carried
into practice in the case of "Christabel." It must be
remembered, however, that Scripture does not ignore the
temporal element as fundamental in the conception of
rhythm. Moreover, his definition of rhythmic movements,
referred to above, as movements repeated at apparently
equal intervals, shows that it is our impression of the
M Sanford, E. C., and Triplett, N., Studies of rhythm and meter,
Am. J. of Pay., VI, 1910, p. 388.
" Scripture, Elements of experimental phonetics, p. 554.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 27
time relations, rather than their objective value, that is
The rhythm of work has received attention chiefly from
Biicher 66 and Miss Smith. 67 The former contends that
half-animal sounds gave primitive man a feeling of relief. 68
These sounds were strengthened, and thus song developed
out of a series of senseless "Lautreihen." Tone rhythm
supported movement rhythm, and breath forced both to
cooperate. These nonsense songs were found an assistance
in primitive labor and are considered by Biicher as an
origin of rhythm prior to the dance. 69 Biicher's theory 60
of a second stage in the development of rhythm, in which
words and sentences were interpolated between the "Laut-
reihen" that accompanied work, is purely fanciful.
One interesting result of Miss Smith's research 61 is that
the observers think they are working to time-beats when
they are not. The exactness with which their movements
and the beats of an accompanying metronome coincide
varies according to the individual difference of the subjects.
In any case, the relation between the two operations is a
very free one. 62 The statement of Miss Smith's M that
"there is no bad rhythm" or, as interpreted by Squire, 64
that the perception of rhythm is present in completeness
or vanishes entirely, is a point of departure for the latter's
genetic study of the subject. Rhythmic forms can in fact
be classified in the order of their complexity. 68 The
earliest rhythm, genetically, to which children respond is
56 Biicher, K., Arbeit und Rhythmus, 4th edition, Leipzig, 1909.
" Smith, M. K., Rhythmus und Arbeit, Philos. St., XVI, 1900.
68 Biicher, op. cit., p. 359. Biicher, op. cit., p. 557 ff.
80 Ibid., p. 360. 61 Smith, op. cit., p. 305.
62 Ibid., p. 305. Ibid., p. 392.
84 Squire, C. R., A genetic study of rhythm, Am. J. of Psy., XII,
1901, p. 493.
Ibid., p. 540.
28 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
even simpler than Poe's spondee, 66 which implies a two-
syllable group. The evidence for this is that children in
their first reactions to rhythm in speech give equal value
to each syllable, thus creating what Squire calls "the
primary form" of rhythm. This corresponds to what the
author of the present treatise refers to as "unitary pulses."
The second stage in the children's progress, according to
Squire, who also refers to Bohme, 67 is to distribute so many
accents to the line, irrespective of regularity. There is no
question 68 that grouping by two's is psychologically prior
to grouping by three's. One of Squire's subjects, a boy, 69
succeeds fairly well in keeping step to iambic and trochaic
rhythm, but fails completely with dactylic and anapaestic
Time is the basis of rhythm, 70 but the character of the
grouping is not necessarily dependent on the time-order.
The rhythm, however, will become unpleasant if the rate
of succession exceeds "the natural rate of the individual." 71
The negro's rhythmic ecstasy is not due to associative
factors, such as are emphasized by Lipps and Groos, but is
due to the feelings produced by the rhythm itself. Of
these the simple sense feelings, most evident in the case of
the negro, derive their pleasantness from "the moderate
and regular functioning of the bodily organs and the
resulting stimulation of the cortex." n We find, however,
in another place, 73 that feeling is not essential to the
perception of rhythm, inasmuch as rhythmic groups occur
in states of indifference so far as feeling is concerned.
Miss Smith is considered 74 to neglect the perceptual
88 Poe, E. A., The rationale of verse, Works, VI, ed. by Stedman and
Woodberry, N. Y., 1908, p. 58.
87 Bohme, F. M., Deutsches Kinderlied, etc., Leipzig, 1897, p. 8.
88 Squire, op. cU., p. 536. 8 Ibid., p. 573. 70 Ibid., p. 541.
71 Ibid., p. 588. Ibid., p. 588 ff.
Ibid., p. 587. 74 Ibid., p. 586.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 29
elements in rhythm; not so, Wundt. "All the phenomena
of rhythm can be explained by the facts of perception." 76
"Perception of rhythm may fail because of a physiological
defect, auditory or motor." It may be due to purely
"psychological" causes, inability to control attention or
to compare sounds or movements, etc. 76 An intelligent
observer may not direct his attention upon the series of
sounds, but upon the reason for the experiment, 77 and thus
appear deficient in rhythmic perception.
In 1904 Marbe 78 published his investigation of rhythm in
German prose. He himself scans the first and second 1000
words of Goethe's "St. Rochusfest" and Heine's "Harz-
reise"; the second and third 1000 are scanned by a collab-
orator. The method of scanning consists in marking the
accented syllables. After the average number of unac-
cented syllables per interval is calculated, and the frequency
of each variety of "foot" obtained for each 1000 words,
the conclusion is drawn that the average foot is shorter
in Goethe than in Heine. Following Marbe's method,
Lipsky 79 undertakes an investigation of the rhythm of
English prose. "Style and rhythm of prose are to a very-
large extent identical." 80 Passages from various English
writers, including Browne, Addison, Lamb, Carlyle, Ruskin,
Emerson, Howells, Spencer, Henry James, and Ingersoll are
scanned according to Marbe's method, and the results
tabulated. Ruskin's "Modern Painters" has the shortest
foot-length; "Spencer has both the longest foot-length and
word-length." 81 Browne, Lamb, and Emerson use phrases
of three accents, to a large extent. 82 In the later work of
Howells the measures are found to grow closer; the rhythm
76 Squire, op. tit., p. 586. 78 Ibid., p. 574. " Ibid., p. 575.
. 78 Marbe, K., Uber d. Rhythmus d. Prosa, Giessen, 1904.
79 Lipsky, A., Rhythm as a distinguishing characteristic of prose
style, N. Y., 1907.
Ibid., p. 40. 81 Ibid., p. 29. M Ibid., p. 26.
30 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
of Henry James grows more and more "open," etc. Many
of the results of Marbe and Lipsky are of interest, but
their procedure, as a whole, is unscientific. The conditions
under which the scanning was made were not regulated
with sufficient care. Very slight consideration was taken of
such influences as fatigue, habit, practice, and suggestion;
and too much final importance is laid upon the results of
single scannings of long passages made by individuals
necessarily subject to varying moods and the disturbing
effects of time and place.
The danger of depending too much upon tapping methods
is emphasized by Brown. 83 Any system of tapping as an
accompaniment to sounds not made by the observer
involves too much the element of expectation, and is
vitiated by the observer's individual rhythmic tendency.
Freely tapped rhythms are of great value in the study
of the general subject but do not concern the rhythm
of speech. Experiments with the phonograph involve
Brown considers the error of method up to date to be
that rhythm has been treated as an art form instead of as
a form of motor expression. Attention should be directed
to the speaker rather than to the hearer, who is open to
too many illusions and misconceptions. 84 "Meaning" inter-
feres with estimates of duration and intensity, but Brown
disclaims an attempt to investigate its effect. 86 Since
tapping by the speaker controls the voice too much, he
makes use of a tambour to record nonsense syllables
uttered by the observer. "Grouping in rhythm is an
affective experience and if we place it simply in the dimen-
sion of strain and relaxation it becomes at once clear why
no regular time relations are necessary. 86 The regularity
becomes a matter of recurrence of strain at the end of a
M Brown, W., Time in English verse rhythm, N. Y., 1908, p. 9 ff.
M Ibid., p. 2. Ibid., p. 3. * Ibid., p. 75.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 31
definite cycle. The muscles may take a longer or a shorter
time to accomplish their cycle and the strain may not
come at equal intervals of time, but the swing is there and
from one place to the next like place is a definite mental
state held together by the continuous circular process."
This appears to be an attempt to remove the experience
of rhythm from too definite a connection with the dimen-
sion of time, and place it in the "dimension of strain and
relaxation." In 1911 Brown 87 seems to have changed his
point of view. After saying that the "only undisputed
character of rhythm is the impression of regularity which
it occasions," 88 he states that "all recurrence is a temporal
matter," 89 and that rhythm is "primarily temporal." 90
Accent may be necessary in order to have "points of
emphasis," but it is not the distinctive feature of rhythm. 91
"The accentual features while necessary are not at the
root of the phenomena." w
Wundt M regards the sensations in the joints and muscles
as the primary origin of time-images. There is no real
tune-sense, but temporal properties are attached to our
various ideas. 94 Thus arise images of speed and of dura-
tion. The sensations accompanying the perception of a
time series of auditory stimuli are largely due to tension of
the ear-drum and action of the musculus tensor tympani. 96
Automatic rhythmic movements do not prove a conscious-
ness of time, as even our walking is usually timeless.
Such movements are due to the "physiological rhythm of
the innervation process." M Nevertheless from our walk-
ing-step the whole body takes a rhythm, and the steps
87 Brown, Temporal and accentual rhythm, Psy. Rev., XVIII, 1911.
88 Ibid., p. 336. 89 Ibid., p. 343. Ibid., p. 344.
91 Ibid., p. 344. n Ibid., p. 346.
98 Wundt, W., Grundzuge d. physiolog. Psychol., Leipzig, 1911, III,
M Ibid., p. 2. 95 Ibid., p. 19. " Ibid., p. 4.
32 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
themselves give us time-images as soon as we attend to
them. The lucky coincidence that the average double
step is approximately one second (.98) assists us in esti-
mating tune. The interval of time most easily estimated
lies between one second and one-fifth of a second. One-
half a second or the duration of a single average walking-
step may be considered as the most convenient unit or
"indifference point," in regard to which least errors of
estimation are likely to occur. 97
The cooperation of the exciting and inhibiting forces
which our central functions undergo, puts all life upon a
basis of vibration. Every movement has a definite regu-
larity or law of its own. All irregular movements, accord-
ingly, can be considered as rhythmic fragments. 98 This is
of particular significance in connection with spoken prose.
In general, a falling or trochaic rhythm is usual in
German unimpassioned speech; the rising or iambic form
produces an exciting effect. In Romance languages, the
rising rhythm is more common. In the development,
however, of a sense of rhythmic "measure" we are probably
below the standard of the Greeks. 99
Music and speech both have their probable common
origin in a song-like form of speech. 100 The march-song,
work-song, and dance-song are united in the primitive
religious song, out of which came poetry. Going still
further back, the movements of the body in walking sug-
gested regular marching, to which sound accompaniments
were later added. Work carried rhythm to a further stage
on account of its demands for regular movement, and
finally the dance emerges after musical motives have been
conceived. Speech thus occupies a mediating position,
adding more complicated motor elements to the preceding
awkward movements. In walking we get a natural origin
97 Wundt, op. tit., p. 13 ff. Ibid., p. 23 ff.
88 Ibid., p. 15. 10 Ibid., II, p. 620.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 33
for rhythmic perception, but later, in the dance, the rhythm
of sound in music reacts upon the body. 101
Established results with regard to time illusions are
reviewed by Wundt. Large intervals usually are judged
too small; small intervals, too large. The "indifference
point" at which they are most correctly judged averages
about .6 second, corresponding to a single walking-step.
When this interval is "filled," it is usually overestimated. 102
Since there is no absolute time measure, illusions refer to
relation and concern either temporal size (velocity illu-
sions) or temporal displacements. A regular series often
seems to get faster. A long series always seems faster than
a short series, when the units are equal. This is due to
attention. The difference in impression between "empty"
and "filled" intervals depends upon their length. A filled
interval, if sh'ort (from .5 to 1.5 seconds), seems longer
than an equal empty interval; but if long (two seconds or
over), it seems less. A long pause before or after a note
gives the effect of an accent. No series of impressions is
possible that cannot in some way be comprehended as
According to Wundt, the pleasantness of rhythm depends
upon two elements: the repetition of feelings of tension
and the contrast between feelings of tension and relaxa-
tion. 104 This is complicated by elements of speed and
number of accents. Rising rhythm with very great
acceleration of speed causes a feeling of unpleasantness;
falling rhythm at very slow speed causes a feeling of
tension. The more accents, the more excitement. Accents
crowded and clashing cause great excitement; irregularly
distributed, cause excitement plus unpleasantness. Rising
rhythm is exciting; falling rhythm is soothing. Between
these two lie series of an amphibrachic nature, in which
101 Wundt, op. tit., Ill, p. 32 ff. m Ibid., p. 48 ff.
1M Ibid., p. 39 ff. l <* Ibid., p. 144 ff.
34 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
the second member of a group of three is accented. 108
Unpleasant effects are due to exceeding the limits of easy
grasp for groups, unmotivized departures from a rhythmic
series, or merely monotonous repetition. 106 The affective
tendency of rhythm, in general, is chiefly to excite or to
soothe, with compensation and contrast as elements of
One of the most recent investigations of the psychology
of time is that of Benussi 108 who feels that past research
has neglected too much the illusions accompanying filled
intervals. A short interval, when divided in two, seems
much larger; a long interval with manifold filling seems
much shorter. 109 An interval seems shorter when filled
with mental work, whether hard or easy. 110 Subjective
time-size depends usually upon the intensity degree of
attention, but in forced cases, upon whether the similarity
or difference of the impressions bounding a time-interval
is the more striking. 111 The interval diminishes when the
two limits are felt as a group. Benussi's three chief factors
in time perception are: I. The "individualizing" of inter-
vals into short, long, and indifferent. II. The distribution
of attention during time perception. III. The distribution
of "strikingness" upon the contending elements of filling,
extension, and limits. 112
In contrast to the theories for the origin of poetry
advanced by Wundt, Bticher, and others, Verrier 113 main-
tains that its origin is neither in the rhythm of work nor
of dancing, but in the prose "segments" of every-day
conversation. These segments, whether "short" or
106 Wundt, op. cit., p. 206. 106 Ibid., p. 142. 107 Ibid., p. 156.
108 Benussi, V., Psychologic d. Zeitauffassung, Heidelberg, 1913.
109 Ibid., p. 419, uo Ibid., p. 486.
1U Ibid., p. 5. m Ibid., p. 505.
m Verrier, P., Essai sur les prindpes de la metrique anglaise,
Paris, 1909-1910, III, p. 71.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 35
"long," 114 fall within the limits of the "indifference"
interval in time estimation. The longer segments, thus,
do not exceed three syllables or the length of a rather
slow walking-step. Segments are measured from strong
vowel to strong vowel and according to their average
length each person is accorded his "natural rhythm" or
"vocal step." This may be regarded as his unit for speech
measurement. In experimenting upon three Englishmen, 116
Verrier finds "an unconscious tendency to bring the con-
secutive rhythmic segments to an equal duration." There
results "a relative shortening of sounds, according as the
number of the syllables of the segments increases." Eng-
lish prose 116 modulates incessantly, in all probability, from
two to three-beat rhythm. "Whether there is or not
dependence between the rhythm of pronunciation and
that of walking, they both have one single and same cause:
the necessity of coordinating and regulating our muscular
movements, in a word, of making them rhythmic, in order
to diminish the expense of energy." 117
Emphatic pauses and variations due to feeling cause
"at every instant accelerations or retardings of different
kinds." 118 Rhythm enjoys irregularities just as harmony
enjoys dissonances. 119 The equality of time-intervals is an
illusion. The individual rhythm of the speaker adapts
itself to the fluctuations of sentiment without giving the
impression of being unrhythmical. Rhythm is pleasing
when it coincides with an individual's inner rhythm,
which in itself is subject to variations. 120 In any case, ar-
tistic rhythm depends upon the return of the beat at
equal (apparently equal) intervals of time. 121 "In objective
114 Verrier, P., Essai sur les principes de la metrique anglaise,
Paris, 1909-1919, III, p. 63.
116 Ibid., p. 67. u Ibid., p. 70. " 7 Ibid., p. 35. 118 Ibid., p. 325.
119 Verrier, Les variations temporettes du rythme, J. de Psy. Norm, et
Path., 1913, I, p. 18.
uo Verrier, op. tit., p. 16 ff. " l Ibid., p. 24.
36 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
reality the feet of our verses approximate absolute equality
in the same degree as the measures of music." 122 This
conclusion is the result of experiments in French versifica-
tion. In general, Verrier appears to believe that rhythm
depends upon the illusion of equal time-intervals for its
basis, but enjoys the introduction of a measure of irregu-
larity per se. When the speaker or hearer is unconscious
of objective irregularity his pleasure in the illusion of
equality is what predominates.
The "weight" element is made of chief importance in
the investigations of Landry. 123 Accent itself depends
upon "energy, and, above all, duration." Rhythm is
defined as "the march of energy," and "the relations of
size and succession hi number, energy, and duration." 124
The composite effect of number, duration, and energy of
syllable constitutes weight; the composite effect of number,
"ampleur," and "weight," constitutes "equilibrium." 126
Syllabic equilibrium is the basis of French declamation. 126
No very definite conclusions are drawn for the constitution
of rhythm in prose, although a number of interesting
measurements are made.
More theoretical in its nature is Saran's treatment of
rhythm. Rhythm is described 127 as "every organization,
pleasing as such, of sensuously perceptible occurrences."
This organization implies three elements: a weight grada-
tion, a time gradation, and a unification based upon pleas-
ingness. Rhythm is purely mental in its origin. 128 The
psychic impression of "weight" is due to phonetic factors,
such as stress, pitch, and so forth; but it is itself an ele-
m Vender, L'isochronisme dans le vers franfais, Paris, 1912, p. 48.
1M Landry, E., La theorie du rythme et le rythme du franfais de-
dame, Paris, 1911.
IM Ibid., p. 40. 12S Ibid., p. 37 ff. 1M Ibid., p. 382.
117 Saran, F., Deutsche Verslehre, Miinchen, 1907, p. 138.
" Saran, op. cit., p. 139.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 37
ment of accent which is defined as "a complex of selected and
clearly organized weight, duration, and unity relations." m
Sievers is criticized for confusing weight and accent. Artistic
prose is seldom rhythmic, often " unrhythmic, " but
chiefly "rhythmless," containing an element of ordering
that should not be called rhythm. 130 In these distinctions
Saran, in spite of his view that rhythm is purely a matter
of intellectual perception, appears to stress the binding
qualities of the prose itself, rather than the various effects
one passage might have upon a number of hearers. A
motor theory seems to be distinctly foreign to his view of
the subject, which as a whole he does not treat in thorough
accordance with any accepted psychological system. His
definition of rhythm, moreover, stressing as a condition the
element of pleasantness, excludes the well-known cases,
mentioned by Squire, 131 where the perception of rhythm is
accompanied by feelings of indifference.
Schipper 132 defines rhythm as "regular order in the
succession of different kinds of motion." " All rhythm,
therefore, in our dancing, poetry, and music comes to us
from ancient times, and is of the same nature in these
three arts." Dancing is the typical form and source of
all rhythmic movement. 133 The time element is plainly
emphasized in his definition of poetical rhythm 134 which is
a "special symmetry, easily recognizable as such, in the
succession of syllables of different phonetic quality, which
convey a sense, and are so arranged as to be uttered in
divisions of time which are symmetrical in their relation
to one another." "In prose the words follow each other
in an order determined entirely, or almost entirely, by the
sense"; but even in prose "a certain influence of rhythmical
119 Saran, op. cit., p. 21. " Ibid., p. 19.
181 Squire, Genetic study of rhythm, 586.
m Schipper, J., History of English versification, Oxford, 1910, p. 3.
m Ibid., p. 2. M Schipper, op. cit., p. 4.
38 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
order may be sometimes observable." In Schipper's
historical treatment of the various theories with regard to
Old English versification several interesting problems are
broached, but not fully discussed. Among others is
Jessen's theory, 135 developed by his successors, of sub-
stituting pauses for "beats not realized." This involves
the possibilities of syncopation in connection with metrics,
which have been to such a large extent neglected even by
those who have sought to put the scanning of verse upon a
purely musical basis.
Schipper, along with Sievers, accepts the two-beat theory
for the alliterative line of Old and Middle English, relying
partly upon the testimony of Gascoigne and Bishop
Percy. 136 According to this view, "the alliterative line
obeys only the requirements of free recitation and is built
up of two hemistichs which have a rhythmical likeness to
one another resulting from the presence in each of two
accented syllables, but which need not have, and as
a matter of fact very rarely have, complete identity
of rhythm." 137 The inconsistency between this view of
poetical rhythm in Old English, in which the relations of
time are completely subordinated, and his straightforward
definition of poetical rhythm, already quoted, in which
"the divisions of time" are "symmetrical in their relation
to one another" is hard to reconcile. Either the definition
is false or Old English poetry has no rhythm. The supposi-
tion of Sievers that it was meant to be recited freely and
not sung in no way removes the inconsistency. Perhaps
the simplest way for Schipper to meet the situation
would be to revise his definition of rhythm; otherwise the
prestige of the two-beat theory, as a whole, is seriously
It would be difficult to attempt a psychological review
" Schipper, op. tit., p. 17. M Ibid., p. 21. Ibid., p. 24.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 39
of Saintsbury's contribution to the investigation of prose
rhythm, 138 inasmuch as he himself is averse to nothing more
than to what he calls "parade of systematic theory." 189
His book, in places, suggests hasty composition. In the
first note on the first page of his first chapter, the author
refers to Isocrates as preceding Aristotle in starting the
whole inquiry as to the nature of prose rhythm. Aristotle
described prose as "neither possessing metre nor destitute
of rhythm." He also advocated the "paeon, or four-
syllabled foot, as the base-rhythm." 14 In a note on page
2 Isocrates is quoted as saying that prose should be
"mingled with all kinds of metres, especially iambic and
trochaic." On page 4, however, Dionysius of Halicar-
nassus is introduced as having made a "bold advance"
upon Aristotle by declaring that "no rhythm whatever is
banished from unmetred composition," which can hardly
be considered as a bold advance, since it is almost exactly
what Isocrates had said at the historical beginning of the
Any detailed attempt to discuss the nature of rhythm
is absent. In view, moreover, of the long series of scanned
examples of well-selected prose passages which he adduces
in evidence of the "development" of rhythm in English
prose, and describes in his usual pungent and entertaining
style, it is surprising to find at the end of his book that he
has nothing more to say with regard to the problem with
which he started than that "where Variety itself is mistress
and queen the moon that governs the waves of prose, as
order is the sun that directs the orbit of verse the ear
once more is judge." 141 This, apparently, strikes a note of
u8 Saintsbury, G., A history of English prose rhythm, London, 1912.
u Ibid., p. 463. " Ibid., p. 3.
141 Saintsbury, op. cit., p. 465.
40 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
Rhythmic feeling, as judged by pulse and breath, has
been investigated by Drozynski. 142 One of his most
important results was that certain rhythms produced a
consistently unpleasant effect. 143 A purely iambic rhythm
at certain rates of speed produced unpleasant reactions.
Series of anapaests frequently produced disagreeable
"tension." 144 Contrary to the usual opinion, rhythmic
groups consisting of three clashing accents and a single
unaccented member were found at certain tempos to have
a quieting effect. 145 At other rates of speed they produced
displeasure and considerable excitement. The breath was
hurried and deepened, and the pulse was shortened.
Woodrow 146 has studied the r61e of pitch in rhythm.
Intensity has a group-beginning effect; duration, a group-
ending effect; but pitch has "neither a group-ending nor a
group-beginning effect." Simple substitution, therefore, of
the factors is impossible. The r61e of kinsesthesis in the
perception of rhythm has been significantly treated by
Ruchmich. 147 "There is evidence enough, then, that most
of the investigators in the field of rhythm conclude that
kinaesthesis of one sort or another plays the most promi-
nent part in rhythmical perception and in its develop-
ment." 148 After quoting Ribot's familiar statement: 149
"Thought is a word or an act in a nascent state, that is to
say, the beginning of a muscular activity," Ruckmich
reviews the more or less recent reaction against this ideo-
142 Drozynski, L., Atmungs- u. Pulssymt. rhythmischer Gefuhle, Pay.
St., VII, 1912.
" Ibid., p. 110. 144 Ibid., p. 111. 14S Ibid., p. 109, p. 139.
146 Woodrow, H., The rdle of pitch in rhythm, Psy. Rev., XVIII,
1911, p. 77 ff.
147 Ruckmich, C. A., The rdle of kincesthesis in the perception of
rhythm, with a bibliography of rhythm, Am. J. of Psy., 1913, XXIV.
148 Ibid., p. 311.
149 Ribot, T., Psychologic de I'attention, Paris, 1889, p. 20.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 41
motor theory on the part of Thorndike, 160 Titchener, 161 and
others. "The assumption of an equivalent between the
psychical and the physical is an error into which the
investigator is apt to fall if he insists upon too rigid an
interpretation of psycho-physical data." 182 As a result of
his experiments it was found that, both in the case of
sound and of flashes of light presented for rhythmization,
kinaesthesis (motor reaction) was essential for the establish-
ment of a rhythmical perception. "That perception once
established, however, rhythm might be consciously carried,
in the absence of any sort of kinaesthesis, by auditory or
visual processes." 153
Weld 1M has made a study of the psychology of musical
enjoyment. Most disturbances in the distribution of blood
supply recorded during the experiments are found to be
due to variations in attention and not to the emotional
quality of the music as such. 166 Music quickens the pulse,
whether the tempo be fast or slow. Under the influence of
music, the chief characteristic of breathing is irregularity;
there is no constant correlation between breathing and
phrasing. Muscular reactions of all kinds are of great
importance in the appreciation of music. Motor responses
occur with every auditor, varying from the crude reaction
of beating time to the "subtlest play of sheer images of
non-executed movements." The complex enjoyment of
music is due to timbre and tone, motor response to rhythm,
association, play of imagery, pleasure in prediction, and
self-projection into the music, pervasive mood, and finally
uo Thorndike, E. L., Idea-motor action, Psy. Rev., XX, 1913, p.
161 Titchener, E. B., Psychology of feeling and attention, N. Y.,
1908, p. 309.
1H Ruckmich, op. cit., p. 313. 1B3 Ibid., p. 359.
164 Weld, H. P., An experimental study of musical enjoyment, Am. J.
of Ps., 1912, XXIII.
166 Ibid., p. 298.
42 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
intellectual analysis of melody and harmony, as well as of
the technique of the performer. Motor imagery is the
most important factor for emotional enjoyment; auditory,
for intellectual enjoyment. 166 The individual hearers may
be classified as analytic, motor, imaginative, and emotional
types, with the possibility of shifting, on occasion, from
one type to another. 167
Seashore's preliminary report on the measurement of
pitch discrimination 168 is the basis of procedure for Vance's
experiments 159 in this direction, some of whose results are
significant. The results of previous investigation indicate
that the greatest sensitiveness to small differences of pitch
lies with tenors and sopranos in the lower half of their
voice registers, but with singers of bass and alto parts, as
a rule, in the upper half. Vance's observers are not
practised singers, but the men surpass the women in
discrimination of pitch at every level in the register. 160
Among the recent, more purely theoretical metricists,
may be mentioned Liddell 161 and Thomson. 162 For the
former poetry is not a rhythm of sound so much as a
"rhythm of ideas," "a flow of attention stresses." 163 In
the application of this theory "waves of impulse" figure
instead of feet. 164 There are some advantages in .such a
point of view, which brings the multiple factors that make
up so-called "accent" under the head of a comprehensive
mental process rather than under the head of a single
158 Weld, op. tit., p. 298 ff. 167 Ibid., p. 300 ff.
U8 Seashore, C. E., The measurement of pitch discrimination: A
preliminary report, Psy. Monog., XIII, 1910.
169 Vance, T. F., Variation in pitch discrimination, Psy. Monog.,
1914, U. of la. St. in Ps. VI.
180 Ibid., p. 148.
181 Liddell, M. H., An introduction to the scientific study of English
poetry, etc., N. Y., 1902.
181 Thomson, W., The basis of English rhythm, Glasgow, 1904-1906.
181 Liddell, op. cit., p. 237. M Ibid., p. 304.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 43
factor of accent such as intensity. Apart from this,
Liddell has not as yet worked out his theory in such a way
as to satisfy thoroughly those who regard the problem of
rhythm as essentially allied to that of music.
Thomson, for instance, feels this deficiency. 166 All
metricists before him who have used musical notation,
except Lanier, impress him either as having used it in a
"perverted" way or else as possessing a sense of rhythm
that is "very peculiar." Lanier is criticized 166 for declaring
that rhythm exists in a series of equal consecutive notes
before they have been grouped by the addition of accents.
The point he has raised is one of the greatest importance.
It has been the stumbling-block of almost every student of
rhythm who has neglected to investigate the contributions
of specific psychological research upon the subject. It is
impossible to separate in consciousness a single sound
sensation from such a hypothetical ungrouped series without
the double process of a focusing and slight unfocusmg of
attention, which in itself produces an element of rhythmic
alternation. The function of this alternation need not be
considered as anything more than what is necessary to
produce an impression of " separateness " between the two
succeeding pulses or it may be regarded as an element of
"contrast," pleasant in itself. In any case, Lanier is right
in announcing his impression of rhythm from such an
"ungrouped" series, which is ungrouped only in a higher
sense, the members of the series being considered as on an
approximate level with each other. But it would have
been absurdly wrong for him to deny that each member
involves in itself, as a sensation, a complex of mental
processes in which a certain element of contrast is inevitable.
Without this contrast it would be impossible to pass from
what we consider one sensation to another.
Thomson is right in demanding some sort of grouping
165 Thomson, op. tit., p. 34. 1M Ibid., p. 26.
44 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
for the rhythmic impression; but he is wrong in excluding
from the possibility of such an impression a series of what
the writer, in the present treatise, has called "unitary
pulses," in which the pulses are "units" only in a relative
sense, being hi themselves necessarily subdivided by at least
two levels in the general wave-line of attention in order to
make their "separateness" possible. These unitary pulses
correspond to what Squire 167 has found to be the primary
form of rhythm for children, so that it is not surprising
that Lanier, although he failed to analyze it properly,
should also have felt its "primary" significance. It is
hard for the present writer, moreover, to see how certain
advanced forms of modern music, such as that of Cyril
Scott, can be adequately grasped except upon such a basis.
It seems, accordingly, unfortunate that such composers
confine themselves or are confined by the demands of their
publishers to the conventional arrangements of bars in
two, three, four-time, etc. When the music essentially
departs from the point of view expressed by the old bar
system, it is fatally misleading to the hearer and unfair to
the composer to restrict him to a convention that falsifies
the facts. The facts seem to be that this type of music is
based upon a system of what might be written as unit-beat
bars, if bars are written at all, in which the up-and-down
feeling of a single pulse, recurring at apparently equal
tune-intervals, supplies all the necessary level-changing of
sensation to complete the rhythmic impression. But the
pulses, as they follow each other, can be regrouped with
tremendous freedom (regarding their primary grouping as
merely serial), and this is, naturally, what appeals to the
so-called "modern" temperament. It remains to be seen,
of course, how far such freedom can be extended without a
reaction of confusion and consequent unpleasantness for
UT Squire, op. tit., p. 540 ff.
HISTORICAL SURVEY 45
As far back as Meumann, 168 theorists such as Lotze have
been accused of confusing the conventional schedules of
musical notation with music itself the real succession, not
of sounds nor even of sound sensations, but of subjective
"impressions," with their shifting factors and subtle
illusions. It seems all the more strange, however, that
Meumann himself and virtually every one else that has
followed him should ignore, after all these warnings, the
full application to the problem of speech rhythm of what
music really is not what it appears to be when trammeled
by conventional notation; and should fail to see that the
possibilities of acceleration, syncopation, and substitutional
equivalence, together with subjective illusion, quite easily
cover, for the sound-organizing type of mind, every com-
bination of discrete sounds within the ordinary limits of
human sensibility and within the time-limits of grouping
distance, experimentally established. Accordingly, there is
no haphazard series of sounds, within these limits, that
cannot be organized by certain minds, when properly
attentive, upon a temporal basis. The problem necessarily
remains a matter of individual difference. Where auditory
and motor imagery is largely absent, where subjective
rhythm is weak, where tune-estimation is inaccurate, where
the sense of "swing" is blurred and inefficient, where
elements in connection with beating time, such as syncopa-
tion, are a source of confusion rather than of pleasure and
interest, it would seem preposterous to expect an organized
response. This might even be the case with the rhythm,
divorced from melody and harmony, of such a passage as
the selection from Chopin in the present series of experi-
ments, which two of the observers, deficient in some of the
above respects, after hearing it for the fourth tune, pro-
nounced to be haphazard.
It is only fair, however, in order to disclaim too great an
188 Meumann, op. cit., p. 263.
46 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
appearance of novelty in the statements contained in the
above paragraph, to complete this brief historical survey
with the words of Wundt: "No series of impressions is
possible that cannot in some way be comprehended as
169 Wundt, op. cit., Ill, p. 53.
THE SENSE OF SWING
ELASTICITY, that is, acceleration followed by com-
pensative retarding, a tightening of speed, as it were,
followed by an untightening, is the secret of a measuring
scale for rhythmic experience. The "boom! boom! boom!"
of subjective tune-units, such as rattle along in the con-
sciousness of an aggressively rhythmic person, may be
accelerated or retarded, within certain limits defined for
each such individual, without destroying their value as a
subjective foot-rule with which to correlate all experience.
In other words, our temporal inches, to use a spatial
metaphor, are merely what we feel to be inches. In the
same way, larger groups of time-intervals, marked off by
points of subjective tension, varying in stress, may form
rhythmic cycles in which elasticity (acceleration and re-
tarding), with its accompanying sensations of tightening
and untightening, is a distinguishing mark. But this
acceleration is likely to be no simple phenomenon. The
most complex relations of progressive change of speed are
often quite evident in familiar situations. It is easy to
multiply examples out of the common occurrences of
Every child who has felt the cutting joy of that progres-
sion of moments, from breathless tip to breathless tip of
height, as he clutches the two sides of his rope swing and
feels the uncanny instant of poise before the pendulum of
which he is a part starts downward to its sweep past the
ground-point; every boy who has watched the small gray
ball fly from the pitcher's hand to "first," while a runner,
48 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
who continues to over-dare his distance, checks with a
swinging turn his forward motion, and for interminable
seconds pauses before he can wind up his forces sufficiently
to send himself sliding back to base; every man who has
staked his fortune on some golden policy, whose repeated
success has swept him over the level of stagnation, but
irresistibly leads him to the balanced moments, which
predestinate a new impetus; for that matter, every gibbon
in the African forest, who launches his lithe body fearlessly
from tree to tree, and in the last instants of his course,
as the momentum of the leap dies out, extends the fingers
of his paw just hi time to catch the swaying branch that
might have been missed, knows the feeling of elastic
rhythmic swing, as complicated in its adjustments, as it is
familiar. Every Sargent with his brush and every Mischa
Elman with his bow dallies with its secrets. They know
it as masters; the rest of us are its slaves it enchants
us in art, excites us in our sport and defeats us in the
cumulative efficiency of our business competitors.
To psychology, however, especially in the field of objec-
tive measurement, not only rhythmic swing but rhythm
in general has figured as a riddle. The disconcerting fact
is that, up to the present, no sufficiently detailed study of
individual difference in rhythmic experience and perform-
ance has been made. What reactions have been studied
are chiefly in connection with particular phases of the
problem. Bolton, for instance, did not attempt to rank
his observers either with regard to sense of swing or ability
to perform tasks in syncopation. Seashore, 1 Scripture,
Andrews, and others have outlined broader programs, and
many investigators have carried out special tests; but no
one has felt impelled to undertake a comprehensive series.
Around the general subject of rhythm, however, there has
1 Seashore, C. E., The measurement of musical talent, Mus. Quart.,
I, 1915, p. 129 ff.
THE SENSE OF SWING 49
developed a voluminous literature, well indicated in the
bibliographies of Ruckmich, and very briefly and incom-
pletely reviewed in Chapter II of the present volume.
Of course, as Meumann made clear, 2 there is no one
"sense of rhythm," but rather a highly puzzling complex
of mental processes, about which few psychologists are
agreed. Since the matter is so complicated, the series of
brief, rough tests which the present writer has instituted
must be taken merely as a beginning in the study of in-
dividual difference in this direction. In spite of the fact
that each of the twelve observers was examined at fairly
long sittings on four or five days, the results of the tests
can hardly count for anything but partial indications of
what each observer was able to do at a certain time under
certain conditions, made as uniform as the general situation
permitted. Native ability, as apart from the results of
practice, was only dimly ascertained, nor was it easy in
so short a time to secure data with regard to possible
The questionnaires were intended to help the observers
understand what was expected of them and to assist in
their "sizing up," rather than to produce material for
conclusive argument. The tests for types of mental
imagery, pitch memory, intensity memory, etc., were
meant to serve no final or accurate purpose. Their value
consisted chiefly in making it reasonably plain that certain
observers were at least not high, and others not low, in
rank. It was thus ascertained that Observer No. 4 was at
least not low in his ability to remember the pitch of a
particular tone. Observer No. 10 was proved to be at
least not high in memory for vowel sounds, and most
definitely deficient in accurate auditory imagery. Inas-
much as all of these processes are involved in the perception
and enjoyment of rhythm, some account had to be taken
1 Meumann, op, cit., p. 268.
50 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
of them. Complete and accurate tests, however, were out
of the question. It was the same with the measurements
made of the normal walking-step, rate of comfortable tap-
In two respects an effort was made to obtain objective
measurements of more accurate significance; in ability to
perform, on the one hand, certain syncopating tasks with
average precision and steadiness (measured by Gross
Constant Error in equaling a standard interval together
with the Average Variable Error in attaining this average
approximation), and, on the other, certain tasks in repro-
ducing a series of six time-intervals, accelerating and
retarding according to a fairly simple progression. In
order, however, to make these useful as forms of tests to
be given in ranking a large number of observers, it was
impossible to make them anything but brief. The synco-
pation tasks have already been referred to in the introduc-
tion and are described in detail, together with the data
obtained, in Appendices II and III. The acceleration
experiment needs more explanation.
In view of the extensive literature on rhythm, it is
surprising that no experimental psychologist, according to
the knowledge of the writer, has brought to an objective
issue the "sense of swing." It is not easy to find even
among writers on musical aesthetics a penetrating analysis
of the relations involved. On the other hand, it is uni-
versally conceded that there is nothing in the individual
performance of a musical composition or the combined
effect of an orchestral production that is so vital to its
success as the power to achieve what we consider to be
"the psychological moment" for a point of climax. This is
at the root of all of our discussions about tempo rubato
(stolen time). One of the most recent musicians to express
himself upon the latter subject is Saint-Saens, who, in his
address at the Pan-American Exposition in 1915, decried
THE SENSE OF SWING 51
the modern misunderstanding and abuse of tempo rubato,
and insisted that even in Chopin freedom in time relations
can be granted only to the melody. Nevertheless, upon
just what principles this freedom in the melody is to be
exercised he remains impenetrably vague. It is in such
situations that the mysterious "sense of swing" is supposed
But surely the sense of swing means nothing unless it be
a sense of progressive movement. When a melody is
played in strict, unvarying metronome time, swing is at its
lowest, and the "psychological moment" for an accent is
merely a matter of remembering that two and two make
four. What is usually meant by swing is really "elastic"
swing, where the simple mathematical relations are com-
plicated for purposes of expression. Compensation figures
conspicuously. Time stolen in one place, is repaid in
another. What Riemann calls "agogic accent" (the
deliberate addition of length to a note, instead of stress, in
order to give it prominence) and, of course, tempo rubato
(stolen tune), belong to this category; so, though it does
not seem to be generally remembered, all effects due to
accelerating and retarding the standard tempo.
No satisfactory grasp, however, can be obtained of the
situation until we realize what Wundt maintains, 3 that
time-intervals may be considered in terms of velocity.
Wundt himself has failed to clarify the final problem of
swing, but his insistence on the importance of the idea of
velocity (how fast something is going) is the best beginning
we could have. Probably those persons who are deficient
in motor types of mental imagery will never find a satisfy-
ing solution; but to an individual who can easily think of
his finger as moving back and forth at various rates of
speed, the problem resolves itself quite simply.
The procedure is as follows: Imagine a series of vertical
1 Wundt, op. cit., Ill, passim.
52 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
bars, arranged like the palings on a fence, or the pipes of a
steam radiator. Better still, if a radiator is at hand, make
actual use of it. First take a stick and draw it across the
pipes at right angles to their direction, so that a series of
sounds results. If the velocity of the stick is perfectly
even, a series of regular time-intervals will be produced
by the sounds. Acceleration and retarding (increase and
decrease of velocity) are the immediate result of varying
the speed of the stick. Now move the stick across the
pipes, rather deliberately, with some melody in mind, a
sound made by the stick's hitting against a pipe correspond-
ing to each note of the melody. If care is taken not to
strike the pipes too hard, but to keep the stick, as far as
possible, in continuous motion, it will become at once
evident that the varying sizes of the time-intervals which
produce the rhythmic tune of the melody are the direct
result of varying rates of speed in the stick.
Now review the illustration for a moment: The vertical
bars are at equal distances from each other. When the
velocity of the stick is even, a series of equal time-intervals
are marked off. By varying the velocity of the stick, not
only effects of acceleration and retarding are produced,
but rhythmic tunes as well. So long as the increase or
decrease in speed is more or less gradual, we retain the
impression of a regular series becoming faster or slower;
as soon as the changes in speed are not only much more
marked, but assume the relations of simple proportion to
each other (3:1, 1:3, 2:3, 1:6, etc.), the impression of a
rhythmic tune becomes possible.
Any variation in the length of the time-intervals, intro-
duced for the purpose of musical expression (this includes
"agogic accent," tempo rubato, accelerando, ritardando, etc.),
will thus be due to varying rates of speed in the stick, in
addition to a similar origin for the rhythmic tune itself.
Varying rates of speed, in a broad and general sense, need
THE SENSE OF SWING 53
now to be distinguished from the specific form in which
they can appear as "progressive motion," which means
nothing more than varying rates of speed in which the
variation is roughly spoken of as "gradual," and more
accurately as occurring according to some law of progressive
increase or decrease. An interval, for instance, of at first
one second, is shortened by one tenth of a second, succes-
sively, until it becomes three tenths of a second, after
which it is lengthened by similar steps until it reaches its
former size. This would be a case of rapidly progressing
acceleration and retarding. The rate of decrease in the
interval, or the rate of increasing velocity in the moving
stick, could be expressed by a mathematical equation.
Another equation could express the retarding movement.
The number of ways in which an interval could become
progressively shorter is, of course, infinite. The point to
keep clear is that every "gradual" (i.e., not jerky) pro-
gression, such as is plainly implied in what we mean by
swing, must be subject to some law, instinctively felt, no
matter how difficult to phrase. . The "sense of swing," then,
would mean the ability to move according to progres-
sive laws, however occult, and to feel instinctively in the
performances of others the lawful course of their progres-
sion, in case they conform themselves to what we mean by
"proper swing." The "psychological moment" for an
accent, thus, is merely the moment which the progression,
as suggested by what has already occurred, seems to
demand. A musician ranks, accordingly, as high in thfe
respect if he can suggest to us such impelling progressions
that we are able in a measure to anticipate the moment for
the climax, and rejoice with him in his achieving the final
note, without undue delay or hurry.
The chief reason for recommending the point of view of
objective velocity, as illustrated by the equi-distant pipes
of the steam radiator across which the stick is drawn, is
54 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
that all our familiar forms of music are likely to involve a
moving object, whether it be the bow drawn across a vio-
lin or the fingers making the stops, the lips of the singer
or the unseen vocal cords or the breathing movements of
When an observer taps upon a key or a pianist trills, the
fingers move through approximately equal distances of
space; but, according to their average velocity, the taps
or the trills mark off time-intervals of greater or smaller
size. So when rhythmic response takes the form of danc-
ing, the feet take steps of approximately equal size, but at
different rates of speed, according to the music.
This point of view leads us to a method of testing in-
dividual difference in the sense of swing. Suppose that an
observer hears a series of six time-intervals produced by rel-
atively even, unobtrusive clicks from an electric sounder, and
is asked to reproduce the series as accurately as possible
by means of tapping with one finger upon an electric key
attached to a kymograph, which records his reproduction.
At each tap his finger moves through an approximately
equal space. Whether it moves evenly or by jerks, its
average velocity in covering this space is what determines
whether two taps come close together or far apart. If the
seven taps he makes, in order to produce six intervals, each
cover this space with a certain average velocity, regularly
repeated, the six time-intervals will be exactly equal.
But, in order to make the experiment a test for swing, the
standard six intervals which he is to reproduce are given
objectively, according to the following progression in size:
.7, .6, .5, .5, .6, .7 sec. In other words, they form an
accelerating and retarding series, in which the laws of
decrease and increase can be phrased. The proportion,
however, between .7 and .6 is not of a sufficiently simple
nature for any one to recognize it by ear in such a way
that it could be announced in terms of numbers. It would
THE SENSE OF SWING 55
have to be caught and reproduced very largely by instinc-
Each observer is thus rated according to the degree of
precision with which he can reproduce this bit of accelera-
tion and retarding. Unfortunately for the finality of the
results, individuals differ in their ability to perform tapping
tasks with ease, so that it is possible for an observer to
make a bad record largely on account of his confusion or
awkwardness when confronted with the problem of adjust-
ing his fingers for a tapped reproduction of a sound impres-
sion. For this reason the tapped records were not taken as
sufficient in themselves to determine an observer's rank.
Sound-photography furnishes in some respects a tremendous
improvement in the matter of obtaining more genuine
information. In connection with investigating the sense of
swing in speech, it seems undoubtedly to be superior to
Inasmuch as any consideration of the swing of a series
leads to problems which concern the memory processes,
most of the tests in this connection were planned to be
memory tests (not tests in immediate discrimination).
Considerable intervals elapsed, according to schedule,
before the observer began his reproduction, even in the
tapping records. With the records by sound-photography
the following plan was carried out: After the observer has
finished his tapping reproductions, and has thus heard the
accelerating series twenty-four times, as given by the
electric sounder, 4 he is told to listen to it three more times,
and accompany it each time, as accurately as he can, by
uttering the word "top" for every click of the sounder.
Then he is to tap a reproduction of the series, uttering
again the word "top" each time that he taps the key.
On the second day, when he hears his two "best" tapping
records reproduced on the Meumann time-sense machine,
4 Appendix II, section vii.
56 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
with a chance to compare them with the original series in
both orders (before the standard series and after it), he
understands that he is hearing this standard series for the
last tune. One week afterward, without any tapping or
voice practice between, he is to reproduce the series, as
well as he can remember it, by uttering seven "top's" as
he stands before the photographing machine. The measure-
ment of his intervals is an easy matter, inasmuch as the
distortions that occur through the use of diaphragms affect
nothing but the relations of stress. By taking the photo-
graphs with noiseless apparatus in a virtually sound-proof
room, the initial impulse from the word "top" is plainly
In Appendices II and III are explained the various meas-
urements which are combined in a final grading value, in-
tended merely as a convenient way of ranking observers
with regard to their ability to catch and to remember and
to reproduce, under the conditions of the experiment, the
"swing" of the six intervals. What amount of effective
swing each of them could produce as musicians, speakers,
etc., if left to their own devices, is another matter. A
beginning in the direction of this sort of investigation has
been made with an examination of their various tapping
versions of the following arrangement of words: "Prose
is prose prose is prose prose is prose while poetry
* * * * * *
is opposed to prose, prose-poetry is opposed to any poetry
that may be composed in any other way than that of
It makes very little difference what the processes are by
means of which an observer catches the progressive move-
ment in question. With some the memory is achieved no
doubt very largely by means of memories of judgments,
5 The results are listed in Appendix III, section xxv.
THE SENSE OF SWING 57
rather than by carrying in the mind an auditory or motor
reproduction of the original series. The chief point to be
determined is simply this: Did the observer catch the rate
of progression? Would he have been able to predict "the
psychological moment" at which the next click was due?
If he cannot even approximate the rate, and actually
falsifies the general trend of progression that is, remem-
bers the acceleration as retardation we may be fairly
certain that he is deficient in a sense of swing. If we find
him consistently, in various forms of the test (tapping his
reproduction, speaking it, drawing it by dividing a line
into segments, announcing verbally his judgment, etc.),
preserving the relations between the six intervals with a
high degree of accuracy, and making no falsifications of
general trend, we have very good reason to believe that
his sense of swing is, roughly speaking, good. Since,
however, we are really dealing with no one "sense," but a
complex of processes, we must be careful not to put too
definite or high a value upon our results, but weigh them in
conjunction with all the other evidence we may be able to
obtain. This means that the combination of conditions
in this experiment may have been favorable to one indi-
vidual at the expense of another, etc.
What it seems we can attain is a clearer attitude toward
the essential elements in swing the perception, enjoy-
ment, and institution of progressive movement in the
sphere of what we do as well as of what we hear and see.
There are some who instinctively catch the modulus of
change. They can sniff at an incipient climax and foretaste
the end. Consequently, if the singer or violinist to whom
they are listening misses his accent, their souls are
wrenched. There are some, too, who can follow certain
trails but not others. Perhaps it is not so much because of
a lack of subtlety of sense as of a lack of interest in the
species of game that is being tracked. Observer No. 11
THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
FIGURE I. Test for the sense of "swing": Series of six accelerating
and retarding intervals, produced by the time-sense machine as a stand-
ard for each O (observer) to duplicate by tapping on an electric key.
The length of each interval is indicated in the graph by a vertical line.
THE SENSE OF SWING 59
evinces subtlety of perception in the swing of series
marked by electric clicks. His personal interests are con-
nected with research work in the psychological laboratory,
where he is familiar with sounds from recording instruments.
According to his own statements, the swing of verse or
prose means very little to him; his interest in music is
not marked. Quite different is the case of Observer No. 3,
who speaks of thrilling from head to foot in response to
music, and yet who fails consistently in every test for
accurate perception of rhythmic swing. His sense of
melody, apparently, is keen, and he ranks high in the test
for memory of pitch. Since he enjoys rhythm, in general,
it would be wrong to say that he lacks interest in elastic
swing. It is simply that his perceptions of correlated
time-intervals are inexact.
Figure 1 represents the swing of the standard series of
intervals (.7, .6, .5, .5, .6, .7 sec.), hurrying steadily to a
moment of poise and then slowing up to the original pace.
Figure 2 shows the attempts of three observers to catch
this line of swing and reproduce it by taps on the electric
key. 6 Observer No. 1 made a very good reproduction
with regard to general trend, precision, arid steadiness.
The line in the illustration, which is the result of graphing
a recorded performance, shows an elastic sweep fairly close
to that of the movement of sounds that was being imitated.
Observer No. 10 caught the first part of the movement, but
failed to reproduce the moment of poise in the middle,
and clearly falsified the swing of the last three intervals.
Observer No. 2 very plainly falsified every relation involved
in the progression. Instead of a sweeping dip, his line
suggests the teeth of a saw.
' The attainments of the various observers in reproducing the swing
or progressive movement of the six standard accelerating and retard-
ing intervals are recorded in the tabulations for general trend, average
precision (Gross Constant Error), and steadiness (Average Variable
Error), listed in Appendix III, section vii.
THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
....... Ono.l's line of swing
_ _ __ Ono.l's ' ** >
_.,_._ Ono.lO's *
Standard ' " "
FIGTJHE II. Test for the sense of "swing" : Graph of the reproduc-
tions of three individuals, attempting to catch the "swing" of the
standard series of intervals given by the time-sense machine.
THE SENSE OF SWING 61
Imitative facility, however, is after all merely a partial
aspect of the sense of swing. In addition to the ability to
reproduce elastic changes of tempo, there is needed a
correlation of mental processes capable of preserving in the
midst of such progressive movement the impression of a
unit of measure; that is, of enjoying the ebb and flow of
speed in a series of unitary pulses, without losing alto-
gether their fundamental yard-stick value. The subjective
yard-stick is necessarily of rubber, but like rubber it has
its normal limits of stretch and compression, which can be
roughly estimated. If, then, the problem of finding rhythm
in prose, as it resolves itself for those aggressively endowed,
depends on the conjuring up of rhythmic tunes for appar-
ently irregular sequences, and if the processes by means of
which such tunes emerge, involve what we term elasticity
in the time-units employed, it should be clear that a fair
amount of the sense of swing the ability to gauge, to
reproduce, and to unify elastic sequences, including not
only simple compensative effects of acceleration and
retarding, but also "agogic accent" and tempo rubato is
one of the set of essential elements in aggressive endowment
whose full quota is necessary for the ready summoning of
these "tunes" that answer the ancient riddle.
"It is the landscape, not of dreams or of fancy, but of places
far withdrawn, and hours selected from a thousand with a miracle
THIS sentence from Walter Pater l was chosen as the
source of the first of the five series of drum-beats, per-
formed by Observer No. 1, and recorded on the phono-
graph. 2 A tap was made for each syllable, "hours" being
given two taps. When heard by the other observers, who
were ignorant of its source, this succession of taps was
graded as the "most elusive" of the five sets by some
observers, and by others, as second in elusiveness. Since
two of the five series thus compared were haphazard
arrangements, there is no reason to question the irregularity
of the beats of this particular set in spite of any regulating
effect that might be due to tapping or other adventitious
In order to test the validity of Wundt's statement about
the possibility of conceiving any succession of impressions
as rhythmic, the observers were given a chance to hear
the passage eight times altogether. 3 On the first hearing
it was graded, together with the other members of the set
of five, for relative "elusiveness." On the second hearing
the observers were instructed to attempt to beat strict
time to each of the set, and record their success; on the
1 Leonardo da Vinci, from The Renaissance, MacMillan ed., Lond.,
1914, p. 111.
1 See Appendix II, section xxvii.
' See Appendix II, sections xxvii, xxix, xxxiv.
third, to keep the possibilities of syncopation in mind and
to beat a more elastic unit, accelerating and retarding,
again recording their success; on the fourth, to pronounce
judgment as to which of the set represented prose, which
music, and which purely haphazard arrangements, together
with a second grading of each passage for "elusiveness."
As a result of this, Observer No. 12, who on the first
hearing had graded the Pater series as the most elusive,
now judges it to be regularly musical. Observer No. 7,
who had graded it as next to the most elusive, also pro-
nounces it now to be regularly musical.
. a -
q j tr
i/^|g ^'fcri^- 1
A . - A
FIQTJKE 1. Rhythmic Schedules used in connection with the sentence
from Walter Pater
After the fourth hearing the Pater series was heard
independently of the others. Accordingly, on the fifth
hearing of it the observers reported upon their affective re-
64 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
action to it at this stage of repetition. On the sixth and
seventh, schedules were introduced (see Figure 1). These
were simply records of two ways of subjectively organizing
the beats as evolved by the experimenter after repeated
In the majority of cases, the observers received most
assistance from the schedules, when the experimenter,
before the actual hearing of the beats from the phonograph,
not only tapped off the schedule on the phosphor-bronze
drum, but hummed a simple tune (purely fictitious),
suggested by the rhythm as indicated in the notation. In
this way, observers who had failed to organize the series
by themselves, found various degrees of satisfaction in
applying to the beats the schemes of organization indicated
in the two schedules. It must be remembered, however,
that Observer No. 7 pronounced all the five series, including
the two purely haphazard arrangements, to be thoroughly
musical in their impression before he had seen the schedules.
Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that these schedules
are merely two of the many ways in which the experi-
menter might subjectively organize the passage in question.
They happen to fall readily into elastic three-time, or a
combination of three and two-time. Among such possible
forms of organization, those that in his case have occurred
most frequently are based, not upon a unit grouped in
two's or three's, but upon unitary pulses, syncopating
freely with the impressions of accent in the actual prose.
Unless the explanations already made in previous chap-
ters about syncopations and spontaneous substitution are
thoroughly understood, any statement about unitary
pulses and their function will be misleading. Taking for
granted, however, that this understanding has been at-
tained, the following is an attempt to make clear the usual
form of rhythmic experience felt by the writer: To begin
with, there is always implicated in the complex of his
RHYTHMIC TUNES 65
mental processes, either plainly evident or susceptible of
easy evocation, a subjective time-unit, sometimes affected
by heart-rate, but, as a rule, corresponding apparently to
his average walking-step (a little over .7 sec.), and, like
any walking-step, capable of accelerating and retarding.
These unitary (ungrouped) time-intervals are marked off by
a series of what appear to be muscular tensions in the
region of the head, sometimes localized in the neighborhood
of the ears (musculus tensor tympani), sometimes in the
throat, or elsewhere. These tensions sometimes, but not
always, coincide with concomitant heart-beats. In spite of
the elastic nature of the intervals thus formed, they occa-
sionally remain more or less regular, and thus serve as a
standard for gauging the varying rate of the pulse, when
the latter is felt. After the pulse has been felt conspicu-
ously, however, the unitary intervals seem to be affected by
its rate and tend to coincide. Apparently the memory of
the normal walking-rate persists in its influence more than
the memory of the normal heart-rate, which is about .9
sec. in the present case. Perhaps, as each step is taken, the
concomitant tension of some obscure muscle of the head
occurs, which thus furnishes the means of repeating the
walking-rate, without carrying the innervation as far as the
legs. Breath-rate does not seem to affect these inner
pulses so much as the pulses, or their multiples, affect
breath-rate; that is, the breathing muscles sometimes have
a tendency to reserve their action at the moment of initiat-
ing inhalation or exhalation, in order to fall in with the
phase of a unitary pulse. Usually, however, the relation
of the two is one of free syncopation rather than coinci-
dence. When attention rests upon this automatic syncopa-
tion by means of which breathing and the time-pulses are
so easily coordinated, a feeling of distinct pleasure results,
quite parallel to what occurs in the hearing of prose. The
measurement of spontaneous tapping at a comfortable rate
66 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
showed that the writer's tapping approximated twice his
walking-rate. In Appendix III, section x, several observers
show similar correlations between various rates of comfort-
able movement. For Observer No. 1, for example, tap and
sway rates, as measured, were identical, and approximately
twice the walking-rate.
In the present instance, this series of elastic unitary
pulses usually announces its presence at once on the appear-
ance of objective auditory stimuli, sufficient in number to
suggest serial grouping. What follows is a slight adjust-
ment of the rate of the pulses (when the stimuli are
produced by another), and a mutual adjustment of the
pulses and the articulatory movement (when the stimuli
are produced by the writer himself, as in reading aloud
the sentence from Walter Pater). This adjustment occurs
by means of instinctive processes, and, unless a repeated
pattern of time and stress obtrudes itself, results, not in a
predominance of coincidence, but rather in various forms of
syncopating and substitutional relation such as appear in
the course of regular music for instance, the sonatas of
Beethoven, or the "Scenes from Childhood" by Schumann.
What thus develops within the compass of the first few
syllables continues throughout the sentence. Suggestions,
however, stream rapidly into consciousness from the first
grasp of the meaning and tone-color of the opening words
(together with the perception that the sentence is arranged
as prose), which suggestions influence appreciably the rate
of the unitary pulses, and, in the case of the experimenter's
own reading, the rate of the uttered syllables, as well as
the form of syncopating adjustment. The instinctive
desire for a maximum of ease, spontaneity (freedom from
an artificial pattern), and appropriateness, joins these
suggestions derived from thought, mood, and tone-color.
Had the first impressions (whether derived from lines and
stanzas visible to the reader, or from evidence of metrical
RHYTHMIC TUNES 67
pattern in the rendering of another) suggested that the
arrangement was intended as verse, memory and habit
would at once enter as factors in assisting consciousness to
pounce upon the pattern as quickly as possible, and adjust
the pulses (which would now be likely to group themselves
into two's or three's) to more or less coincidence with the
accents of the metre. The reason, however, for such
adjustment would be nothing more abstruse than that it
is the easiest thing to do. In the case of a rendering of
verse by another person, the pulses would probably be
suppressed, as soon as an adjustment between their rate
and the rate of the speaker proved uncomfortable. But in
case of prose where patterns do not obtrude, the elastic
possibilities of acceleration, together with those of syncopa-
tion and substitution, open loop-holes of escape in every
direction. Only where the prose rendering is obviously
too schematic, rather than perfectly spontaneous, does the
problem of adjusting the heard syllables instinctively to the
under-units become anything but a refreshing task.
After this explanation, the following purely chance type
of rhythmic experience on the part of the writer, in reading
aloud the sentence of Pater, may assist in making plain the
procedure of a "timer" in organizing prose. A glance at
the text gives the assurance that the words are at least
arranged in a normal, straightforward fashion. There are
no inversions, and no obvious stress-pattern presents
itself. "It is the landscape, not of dreams or of fancy," is
about as much as the mind at first comprehends with
regard to thought, mood, and tone-color. A degree of
pensiveness and the consequent appropriateness of a
moderate tempo suggest themselves at once. The unitary
pulses of subjective tune begin to obtrude before the actual
uttering of any of the words of the sentence. Their rate
is about .7 sec., or less, we shall say, being quickened
probably by the consciousness of an approaching problem,
68 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
through suggestions derived from accelerating heart-beats
and breathing, part of the phenomena accompanying
mental work. The voice begins, just after one of the
pulses (i.e., syncopating), and utters the words "It is the"
during the unit-interval. At the syllable "land," the voice
and the subjective time-beat coincide. The next pulse
registers its subjective tap, not on the accented part of the
word "dreams" but on the humming "m" sound at the end.
In this way "dre" is registered, in the combined impression,
as preceding the pulse by a definitely appreciated time-
interval. The fact, however, that the unit pulse falls on
the "m" sound, in no way distorts the usual accentuation
of the word. This phenomenon is at once understood by
every musician. It is a simple case of syncopation. The
fact, in this particular case, that the beat did not coincide
with "dre" is due, apparently, to some suggestion in the
context or perhaps merely to some spontaneous articulatory
tendency, which hurried the enunciation of the word.
The satisfying effect of such syncopation, when once
recognized, is nothing more occult than what occurs in
every bit of genuine rag-time. When talked about too
much it easily assumes the guise of unpenetrable mys-
In the same way, the next pulse does not coincide with
the orally accented part of "fancy" but falls upon the last
syllable another case of syncopation due to an uncon-
strained rendering. In the case of a person's not making
these temporal correlations easily and spontaneously, a
forced attempt to "beat time" would undoubtedly lead,
unless otherwise directed, to a deliberate hurrying or slowing
up of words in order to form coincidences with the accom-
panying units. This is a complete negation of the spirit of
prose, and even in verse produces mechanical renderings,
when the unit-series itself is maintained without a certain
free play of elasticity (accelerando and ritardando') , and
RHYTHMIC TUNES 69
without a definite, though subordinated, amount of synco-
The combined rhythmical experience of the syllabic
impressions and the under-units of time, in the present
instance, is as follows :
"It is the landscape, not of dreams or of fancy, but of
# * * *
places far withdrawn, and hours selected from a thousand
* * * *
with a miracle of finesse."
We shall call this, "rhythmic experience x." The rela-
tive occurrence of unitary pulses is indicated by asterisks
placed just underneath the sounds or pauses which they
accompany. Reproduce by tapping off the pulses at approxi-
mately equal intervals, taking care that the predominantly
syncopating relation between the pulses and the chief accents
of the text is preserved.
f~~ The impression which results from the combination in
consciousness of the auditory (syllabic) sensations (includ-
ing their effect upon attention) and the subjective time-units,
may be compared to a melody and its accompaniment,
with attention focussed, not upon the pitch relations so
much as upon the relations of time and stress. This is
what occurs when the rhythm of a melody is tapped upon a
drum. "Drum-beat tunes" and "rhythmic tunes" are
merely phrases, no doubt quite old, for such a performance.
"Tune" in both cases not only suggests an auditory
sequence, temporally and accentually organized, but brings
to mind two interesting facts first, that even in a succes-
sion of noises, impressions of definite pitch are likely to
occur; second, that even in a succession of notes of unvary-
ing pitch, fictitious melodies, of definite tonal structure, are
easily added subjectively by some observers.
The drum-beat tune, in its function of assistance in
organizing irregular sequences, must be kept exactly where
it belongs as a step of great importance, but, after all,
70 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
nothing more than a step. The final impression of rhythm
derived from a sentence is, to a large extent, a fusion of
elements, in which actual pitch, tone-color, thought, mood,
capricious or logical attention, etc., enter as factors in
addition to duration, stress, and the dim element of pitch,
actual or purely subjective, implicated in the drum-beat
tune. Of course, one of the chief virtues of objectively
tapping a drum-beat tune, or of reproducing in some
outward motor form the series of subjective units, is that
the overt motor performance is a help to confirming and
defining the rhythmic experience.
Reverting to the sentence from Pater, and the particular
rhythmic experience which is being discussed (rhythmic
experience x), we should state that the series of under-
units, spontaneously evoked at the first signal for the
mental and motor task of reading the sentence aloud, loses
its obtrusiveness very quickly, so that the result, segregated
as a rhythmic experience (apart from the mere understand-
ing and enjoyment of the meaning of the sentence) can be
described only by some such phrase as the "rhythmic
tune" of the rendering. This implies more or less of a
fusion of the two elements furnished by the motor and
auditory sensations connected with the words, on the one
hand, and the pulses of subjective time on the other. It is
just what happens when we whistle a melody, keeping
satisfactory time (largely by means of automatic processes)
without realizing the system of units we happen to be using.
The particular "tune" attained by rhythmic experience
x could be roughly written in musical notation with two
staves: one for the "melody," or series of beats (subjective
impressions of syllables), accented in various ways, pro-
duced by the actual words; the other for the accompani-
ment, or series of unitary pulses. The only chance for
misunderstanding would be over the matter of spontaneous
substitution, which enters into every step of the progres-
RHYTHMIC TUNES 71
sion. If this is once understood, syncopation (which may
be regarded as an aspect of substitution) presents no great
difficulties. Spontaneous substitution, as explained before,
means here simply: first, that when two sets of time-
intervals are occurring concomitantly, one a unit-series and
the other a more complicated arrangement (to be coordi-
nated with these units and then organized), the unit-
intervals, in their successive occurrence, establish the
fundamental continuous experience of rhythm; second,
that this experience is not disturbed, but rather made more
interesting by the fact that any one of the units can be
accompanied by two, three, four, etc. subdivisions of a
unit-interval, produced by the beats of the more com-
If the series of elastic unitary pulses is thus conceived as
an ungrouped succession of "boom's," the objective, more
complicated series may be conceived at first as a haphazard
arrangement of "bim's." Coordination is accomplished by
means of the principle of spontaneous substitution, in
which case the unit series continues as "boom! boom!
boom!", while the objective series is felt to consist of
substitutions (without premeditated pattern) of two
"bim's," three "bim's," etc., to a single "boom." So,
also, one "bim" may be prolonged sufficiently to cover the
time occupied by several "boom's." When to these
possibilities we add the possibility of suppressing any
number of "bim's" in a group, let us say of three or five,
and instituting in its place some subjective point of tension,
marked by kinaesthesis or imagery, we have introduced the
principle of syncopation. By substitution a "boom" is
first accompanied, let us assume, by three "bim's"; by
another form of substitution, which we call syncopation,
the first and second "bim's" are suppressed, and subjective
points of tension "felt" in their place. A silence thus
accompanies the beginning of the "boom," but two thirds
72 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
of the way across the interval a short "him" sounds.
To a mind to which syncopation is an easy task, the
occurrence of a "him" four fifths of the way across a unit-
interval at once evokes an illusion of the interval's having
been divided from the beginning into five. By this is
meant, not that the number five comes actually into con-
sciousness, but that there is instituted (for how long it is
impossible to say) a second temporary series, of small
pulses, each equal to the short interval just perceived.
At every new substitution of three's, four's, etc., or the
suggestion of such substitution by the sudden introduction
of an interval shorter than the fundamental "boom," the
mental processes instinctively readjust themselves to the
momentary form of coordination, without losing the uni-
fying influence of the basic "boom's." It is a signal
case of unity regulating multiplicity. The current belief
that prose rhythm has no rule but variety is thus shown to
be unfounded so far as rhythmic experience x is concerned.
Any one who wishes to see the principles above described
strikingly applied in terms of the notation of regular music,
should examine the first page of "The Temple of Mem-
phis," composed for the piano by Cyril Scott. The passage
containing the most noticeable series of unitary pulses in
the bass, accompanied by the spontaneous substitution of
two's, three's, etc., in the treble, begins with the fifth bar.
Broader groupings of the unitary pulses into clusters of
three, five, four, three, are indicated lower down on the
page by the figures at the beginning of each bar. The
recent recitals of East Indian music given in New York by
Ratan Devi furnish signal examples of objective unitary
pulses, played as an instrumental accompaniment to the
syncopating words of the songs. But, for that matter, the
"Scenes from Childhood" by Schumann, in which such
familiar melodies as "Traumerei" occur, contain excellent
RHYTHMIC TUNES 73
The testimony of the data recorded in Appendix III,
section xxxiv, leaves little doubt that rhythmic experience
x, in so far as it is based upon unitary pulses, syncopation
and substitution, is the sort of experience felt by Observer
No. 7 (see Appendix III, section xxvii) when he subjectively
organized all five of the phonograph records and pro-
nounced them regular music. It would be a mistake of
the gravest nature to confuse rhythmic experience x, based
upon unitary pulses, with the type of musical experience
resulting from the hearing of a Strauss waltz. But it
would be very difficult to distinguish the sort of rhythmic
tune it suggests (when this is quite divorced of voice-pitch,
tone-color, thought, mood, etc.) from a similar rhythmic
tune obtained from a rendering of such music as Cyril
Scott's, or from Ratan Devi's singing, or from so thoroughly
beloved a melody as "Traumerei."
Any objections to the use of Cyril Scott's music, as
probably unpleasing in its rhythm, are completely nullified
by the data recorded in Appendix III, section xxxi, where
eight out of the twelve observers, although in some cases
puzzled by the first hearing of the rhythmic tune as beaten
on the drum, reported interest and pleasure on the second
hearing. Their possible experience with regard to the
melody and harmony of this music would be quite another
point. Its rhythmic suggestions, however, contain enough
of primeval tom-tom hypnotism to appeal even to those
of us who are still savages. The same is true of the sen-
tence of Walter Pater, regardless of the rather sophisticated
rustle underneath which its beats are veiled.
SINCE the distinction between prose and verse experience
is of vital significance in the present investigation, certain
claims must be considered, which have been advanced by
the writers of vers libre, some of whom imply that what
they write is merely an amplified, "freer" kind of verse,
others that they are expressing themselves through a
distinctive medium, which is neither prose nor verse, in
the old acceptation of the term. From the point of view
of the "timer," who can be brought to a clear realization
of the difference between typical prose and verse experience,
and who, consequently, need not feel any undue terrors
with regard to the supposed " elusiveness " of the problem,
these claims of the writers of vers libre are easily examined.
There is no reason why a picture of the situation should not
be painted in black and white.
Once more we must focus our attention, not upon paper
theories, but upon actual experiment. From this point of
view, typical prose is uttered language which, on a given
occasion, produces a series of syllabic impressions, whose
temporal arrangement is largely irregular, that is, hap-
hazard, but which can be subjectively organized by an
aggressive "timer." A spontaneous or automatic process
of syncopation between the syllabic sounds and subjective
unitary pulses secures satisfactory coordination, in the same
way that a negro automatically improvises complicated syn-
copating melodies while he plies his hoe in the corn-field. 1
1 The definition of prose as distinguished from verse experience,
for a timer, depends upon a predominance of syncopation over coin-
cidence in the coordination of the accented syllables of the text with
the measuring pulses. See the following paragraph.
VERS LIBRE 75
Felicity of phrase and vividness of imagery, which give
emotional value to a poem through a complex of suggestions
and associations, must be removed from the discussion
except in so far as they involve time-patterns and stress-
patterns, the two factors which most immediately con-
cern us. Taking well-defined prose experience to be due
to a predominance of syncopation in the relation between a
"timer's" elastic measuring pulses and the syllables in
which we feel impressions of accent, and regarding verse
experience as due to a predominance of coincidence in this
relation, we first of all conceive the rhythm of either prose
or verse in the form of a rhythmic tune, combining patterns
of time, stress, and, to some extent, pitch. Patterns of
tone-color are superimposed, as soon as we consider the
actual sounds of the words, and patterns of subjective
weight, as soon as we consider the words as vehicles of
thought and feeling, in addition to their auditory impression.
Patterns, not of stress as actually uttered, but as in-
dicated by grammatical (dictionary) accent, have a great
influence upon the person who utters a printed passage, in
suggesting to him whether to speak the words as prose or
verse. Here is where the absence of a series of similar
grammatical stress-patterns is of importance in instituting
the typical prose attitude. When once this prose attitude
is instituted, it is quite evident in the delivery of a "timer"
that he is uttering his accented syllables in a comfortably
irregular fashion comfortably, because his ability to
organize subjectively such irregularities completes for him,
by means of syncopation, the easiest rhythmic experience
that can be evoked by such conditions. If, however, the
grammatical stresses, as noticed in the particular text,
arrange themselves obviously in a repeated pattern, he
receives his cue therefrom, and utters the passage in
question in harmony with his instinctive feeling that the
predominating coincidence between accents and tinie-pulses
76 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
is the easiest process whenever a sequence of some one
stress-pattern is involved. Thus, both in the case of prose
and verse, he follows automatically the line of least resistance.
So much for the person who reads aloud from a printed
text. The hearer, on the other hand, receives his sugges-
tions no longer from mere dictionary accent, which is
easily obliterated in rapid delivery, but from the particular
rendering of the one who utters the words. If he detects
in this rendering a sequence of some actual stress-pattern
matched by evident ease in adapting his inner pulses to the
accents in a form of coordination in which coincidence pre-
dominates, he, too, follows the line of least resistance, and
considers the words he hears to be verse. Naturally he
does not bother his mind as to how he enjoys it, provided
he actually does enjoy it. If either the hearer or the one
who is reading aloud is enjoying a passage in the typical
temporal attitude associated with prose and suddenly be-
gins to feel pulling at his elbow hints of repeated patterns,
whose regular sequence makes coincidence the easiest form
of coordination, he may find himself out of the formal
sphere of prose and, momentarily, at least, in that of verse.
Whether he enjoys this shift or not is a matter of individual
difference. There are some who resent it bitterly, just as
there are others who may aver that they enjoy such chang-
ing back and forth.
One continuous text, then, may lead to the two types of
experience, and passages may easily occur in which the
suggestions of pattern may be balanced by suggestions of
the absence of pattern. One person, too, might interpret
the passage as verse-like, another as quite the opposite.
Right here is where the chance for a tremendous fallacy
occurs. The confused state of mind with regard to the
general trend of the movement, that is, as to whether it is
prose or verse, must not lead us into concluding that a
distinct aesthetic experience has been produced essentially
VERS LIBRE 77
different from that of prose or of regular verse. There are
only two ways in which a series of measuring time-units
can be coordinated with a second series of sensations
syncopation and coincidence. Either syncopation pre-
dominates, in which instance we feel the stimulus as prose,
or coincidence predominates, and verse experience ensues.
What room is there for a tertium quid? Nothing remains
but the purely hypothetical case where syncopation and
coincidence are exactly balanced in their occurrence, or
else a mere confusion of mind in which temporal coordina-
tion practically ceases, that is, in which rhythm, so far as
the "tuner" is concerned, has been abrogated. Wallin's
experiments at Yale have shown how easily passages of
verse, such as that of Tennyson or Browning, might be
read as prose if so arranged. But there exists no actual
arrangement of lines or of stress-groups in the words
themselves which is capable of leading us invariably into a
perfect balance between syncopation and coincidence.
Accordingly, there exists no fundamental time-rhythm experi-
ence corresponding to a tertium quid between prose and
regular verse. What actually happens in the hearing or
utterance either of vers libre or of certain forms of so-called
"rhythmic prose" is that during one phrase or group of
phrases the aggressive "timer" feels syncopating temporal
experiences, during the next phrase or group he begins to
feel coincidence of the accents with his subjective measuring
pulses. The more vague impressions of the "stresser" are
significant in the study of individual difference, but hardly
illuminating with regard to the distinctive experience of
rhythm because of his overly blurred sense of time-values.
According to the results of our experiments, therefore,
there is no psychological meaning to the claims for a third
genre between regular verse and prose, except in the sense
of a jumping back and forth from one side of the fence to
the other. In spite of the fact, then, that many passages
78 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
can be felt as either prose or verse, according to the utter-
ance or the amount of "suggestion" received through
visual arrangement, grammatical (dictionary) accent, arti-
fices of tone-color, figures of speech, elevated diction, etc.,
nothing more than an unstable compound can be created
out of the two typical forms of temporal experience.
So far as broader grouping is concerned, prose is capable
of all the subtleties of occult balance ever evinced in
verse. 2 If the champions of vers libre were to stick to an
obvious balance in broader groupings, with an avoidance of
any regular succession of small group-patterns, such as
iambs, trochees, anapaests, etc., they would have a more
consistent form, similar, as a whole, to neither regular
prose nor regular verse. It would produce symmetrically
arranged stretches of prose experience, in which free
syncopation, however, would probably be checked to a
large extent by the suggested see-saw of broader arrange-
ment. Such a form exists in some of the Psalm transla-
tions. The writers of vers libre, however, appear to have
no intention of thus curbing their freedom. So, of course
the constant jerking back and forth from prose to verse
may continue to produce pleasurable reactions in enough
individuals to confirm the operation as a fairly usual,
though surprising, combination of mental processes. All
that psychology has a right to question is the distinctive
unified reaction claimed for what is really an alternation
of two contrasting forms of experience.
Irregular length of line and the absence of rhyme have
always been features of certain types of verse, avoided
by some poets, cultivated by others. Particularly with
1 This secondary grouping may be symmetrical or unsymmetrical.
Either verse or prose experience may thus be colored by the form of
grouping superimposed. Verse experience, unsymmetrically grouped,
and prose experience, symmetrically grouped, would be the more
unusual and, without doubt, the more unstable varieties.
VERS LIBRE 79
respect to irregular length of line, whether measured by
stress-patterns of grammatical accent or merely by number
of chief accents, there will continue to be chances for more
and more "freedom" until the mathematical limit of
permutation and combination for unusually long and unu-
sually short lines has been reached. The idea, therefore,
that certain individual forms of vers libre are merely
amplifications of accepted types of conventional verse is
thoroughly justified. But quite apart from irregular length
of line, the arrangement of grammatical accent in the
printed text of the poems of Masters, for instance, produces
frequently, by the force of suggestion, an assortment of
thoroughly good prose experiences sandwiched in between
patches of equally good verse. This is hardly a mere
amplification of accepted types of verse, since the broader
interchange between verse and prose to be found in Shake-
speare and the Elizabethan drama is frankly according to
the facts a matter not of some new verse form, but a
confessed mosaic of verse and prose. On the other hand,
it must be admitted that the masquerading of prose plus
verse under the name of either experience is far older than
the nineteenth century. In fact, it has its counterpart in
Sanskrit forms. The Sanskrit rhetoricians are quite unable
to straighten out for us a final classification of certain
examples in the "Gadya" style, where the "perfume of
metre" is supposed to be attained without its presence, in
spite of which theoretical restriction the actual metrical
"pada's" are repeatedly interpolated. 3
Even in its most recent developments, particularly in
France, the mosaic form has appeared sometimes under the
name of prose, sometimes under that of verse. In either
case, it must be recognized that whenever so-called vers
libre goes beyond mere irregularity of length of line, and
alternates successions of repeated stress-patterns with
1 Regnaud, P., La Rhttorique sanskrite, Paris, 1884, pp. 74 ff.
80 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
stretches where the grammatical accent is sufficiently
irregular to suggest a syncopating rhythmic response, there
results for the "tuner" a patch-work product, involving two
processes which psychologically do not fuse.
In conclusion, we may say that the recent American
poets who employ "free verse" give us many effective and
welcome phrasings of their realistic view of life. Their
independence as to form is occasionally stimulating. With
regard to subtle cadence, however, which has been claimed
as the chief distinction of these poets, it is still a question
as to how far they have surpassed the refinement of balance
that quickens the prose of Walter Pater.
A word, finally, must be added as to terminology. When
regular prose becomes consistently emotional, whether
through richness of tone-color, abundance of images, or
conspicuous "return" of certain prose refrains, such as we
find in Matthew Arnold's repetition of "sweetness and
light" or De Quincey's "Fanny and the rose in June," all
we need is to space the phrases on separate lines in order to
obtain something which is not to be distinguished from the
best "free verse." This resulting experience is different
from that obtained from ordinary prose in that the spacing
serves to focus our attention upon the rhythm as rhythm] 4
but, in spite of this self-consciousness and its emotional
consequences, our "glorified" prose still remains a kind of
prose. What shall we call it? Since all prose has its rhyth-
mic possibilities, "rhythmic prose" is as misleading a name
as vers libre. Rhythmically self-conscious "spaced prose"
is an uninviting but fairly accurate description of it in its
more inspired manifestations, such as abound in the work
of Miss Amy Lowell. Nevertheless, until the various expo-
nents of vers libre strike Miss Lowell's more consistent pace,
it is useless to devise names for what, at present, seems to
be a shifting entity.
4 Rhythm in the sense of "secondary, broader rhythm." See p. 98.
THERE is little that is permanently elusive about the
rhythm of prose to an aggressively rhythmic person. The
temporal part of his experience, at any rate, is clear-cut
enough for musical transcription, provided we adopt a
system of accelerating and retarding unitary pulses as a
basis, and understand the phenomena of syncopation and
spontaneous substitution. To a passively rhythmic person,
however, whose time-sense is noticeably deficient, prose
rhythm, as an experience, will never possess anything but
an elusive aspect. The subtle pleasure he may elicit from
a careful choice of words with regard to tone-color, shades
of mood and thought, etc., can easily deceive him into
calling his experience "rhythmic," when actually it is
something else. The "stresser" imagines that he can
correctly gauge a "movement" when he is merely gauging
a permutation or combination of stresses and unstressed
syllables. The so-called "word painter" mistakes for
rhythmic sense his skill in vowel and consonant color; the
"phraser," his gift in balancing against each other colloca-
tions of words, in which association of thought is the dis-
tinguishing characteristic. Such a "phraser" may have
skill in duplicating the style of some well-known prose
author, including, inadvertently, the possibilities of rhythm;
and yet in so doing, he may have made use of processes
quite distinct from those primarily connected with rhythmic
experience. It would be absurd to maintain that without
a discriminative sense of time there can be any real valua-
tion of movement.
82 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
Many of the stresser's errors are avoided if we keep
before our minds the difference between body-rhythm and
static body-balance. The schoolboy, standing erect with
heels together, ready for calisthenic drill, exemplifies
symmetrical body-balance. The Indian, poised for an
instant upon one foot, as he climbs the rocks, illustrates
the balance of an apparently unsymmetrical or "occult"
nature. 1 But let the schoolboy begin to move his arms in
time to music, his motions coinciding with the temporal
pulses of a tune, and rhythmic experience results, similar
to that which we associate with verse. So let the Indian
resume his actual climbing of the rocks, and the coordinated
movements he makes, although occurring at objectively
irregular intervals, are subjectively organized by an aggres-
sively rhythmic spectator as a sort of prose tune, in which
the accents in the movement predominantly syncopate with
the elastic subjective temporal pulses of the onlooker, if
he be a "timer." When the schoolboy and the Indian
move progressively the phenomena of body-rhythm become
evident, in addition to body-balance, which, of course, still
operates. The "stresser," the "word painter," and the
"phraser" are often capable of the most subtle appreciation
of static body-balance in a sentence, and are always aware,
to a certain extent, of the temporal quality of body-
rhythm; but they cannot easily evoke a scale of subjective
temporal measurement, and, accordingly, their attention,
when they react to progressive movement in language, is
on the weakness or strength of accents and their merely
numerical recurrence, on the relations of tone-color, and
the interplay of thought and mood associations.
The intellectual act of balancing the memory of three
stress accents in one phrase against three such accents in
another, regardless of their time relations, is a unifying
1 Puffer, E., Studies in symmetry, Harv. Psy. St., I, 1903; Gordon,
K., Esthetics, N.Y., 1909; etc.
process similar to body-balance. Suppose that the school-
boy lifts his arms above his head three times, regardless of
temporal regularity. Presently let him lift them up again
three times at irregular intervals, quite different from those
of his first three movements. There is a mental satisfaction
in being able to group his first three acts as a numerical
pattern repeated in his second group of arm-liftings. We
enjoy this subjective unification of the number of the
boy's movements in the way that we enjoy a single act of
body-balance. Similarly, we might enjoy contemplating
the fact that there are five fingers on one hand and five
on the other.
Stress-patterns, small and large, from the balance of
two iambs to the balance of two paragraphs, similarly
"grouped," figure in the rhythmic experience of every
"timer"; but they are always superimposed upon time-
patterns. The inveterate "stresser," however, has a much
less complete experience, in that only one of the two
elements is a distinct factor in the pleasure he obtains
from prose and verse. As to prose, moreover, no "non-
timer" seems able to make clear the nature of his own
experience. To say that it is due to a generous "mixture"
of "all sorts of metres" is the same as confessing that the
experience is mere hodge-podge. Is it not more accurate
and sincere for him to say that, while he may have a
subtle sense for simple and occult balance of stress-patterns
in prose, and possibly a tremendous sense for tone-color
and the artistic adjustment of thought and mood associa-
tion, nevertheless his sense of time is not sufficiently keen
for him to organize objectively irregular series of sounds
such as he confesses, by his term "mixture of all sorts of
metres," are typical of prose? Such an admission is likely
to be followed by a realization that one's sense of time can
be sharpened by practice, and that the enrichment and
completion of the rhythmic experience is worth an effort
84 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
in this direction. Our loss of time-sense is largely due to
our conventionally passive enjoyment of rhythm, so that
the deliberate practice in tapping schemes of syncopation,
together with attempts to tap the rhythmic tunes of prose,
is a ready means of leading us back to the sharpness of
temporal sense no doubt possessed by our primitive an-
The aggressive "timer," of course, gets his keenest
delight from prose in the fact that he feels no trammels.
His instinctive processes revel in the unlimited freedom
assured by the possibilities of elastic pulses and automatic
syncopation. The pulses dance along of their own accord,
falling in with the movement of the prose syllables and
creating by their predominant syncopation a rhythmic tune,
which is enriched by the texture of stress-patterns, pitch-
patterns, tone-color-patterns, balances of thought and
mood, etc., up to the full experience of literary enjoyment.
The typical "stresser" or deficient "timer," may feel that
he gets just as much pleasure from his time-blurred group-
ings, especially since he may exceed the "tuner" in his
susceptibility to some of the other factors in prose style
besides duration. But the aggressively rhythmic "timer"
excels in a majority of the factors mentioned above, and,
most interesting of all, can be brought to a fairly clear
description of his experience. If he adds to his easy and
spontaneous coordination of haphazard sounds and his
instinctive sense of swing, a subtle ability to judge the
fitness of rhythmic movement to the underlying thought
and mood of a prose passage, he superimposes upon what
might be considered a purely musical endowment a defi-
nitely literary gift.
One chief reason for rebelling against the two-beat
theory advanced by Sievers as an explanation for Old
English verse, is that its application forces upon our ancient
bards the limitations of defective tune-sense. As already
explained in Chapter II, Sievers and Schipper define
rhythm from the point of view of "timers," but apply it in
the two-beat theory from the point of view of " stressers."
The contradiction in this attitude is quite flat. Schipper 2
defines poetical rhythm as "a succession of syllables so
arranged as to be uttered in divisions of time which are
symmetrical in their relation to one another." Nothing
could be more definite, more exactly in line with the
experience of a "timer." Similarly, Sievers declares, in no
uncertain terms, 8 that "by far the most important among
these factors (in rhythm) are the first two named: time-
organization and stress-gradation." In the face of all
this, the two-beat theory is erected on the confessed
assumption that the Old English bards delivered their
hemistichs according to the manner of "free recitation." 4
In other words, they did not utter their verse "in divisions
of time which are symmetrical in their relation to one
another," nor was "time-organization" one of the "by
far" . . . "most important" factors. All that is impor-
tant, according to Sievers and Schipper, is the fact that
two syllables were stressed in each half line. Either the
two-beat theory is in need of repair, or Sievers and Schip-
per, and so Westphal and Saran, whose definitions of
rhythm they virtually adopt, will have to devise new
definitions to fit the theory.
In prose, the acts of judgment, unifying and balancing
succeeding phrases merely by recording the number of
chief accents in each phrase, are interwoven with our pro-
gressive rhythmic experience. Simple and occult balance
both come constantly into operation. The simple balance
2 Schipper, op. cit., p. 4.
1 Sievers, Metrische Studien, Kon. sack. Ges. d. Wiss. Abh. phil.-
hist. KL, XXI, p. 31.
4 Sievers, Altgermanische Metrik, Halle, 1893, p. 22: "einen freieren
sprechvortrag, nicht gleichmassig taktierenden."
86 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
of an epigram is easy to detect. Straightforward increase
or decrease in the length of phrases (measured by accents)
can be understood by any one. So no one would find
difficulty in grasping the aesthetic satisfaction of a single
short phrase or sentence after many long ones, in spite of
the fact that this latter form of balance is usually termed
The constant operation of hidden symmetry, of course,
includes some effects which are lost upon the average
reader or hearer. Yet they are based upon easily ex-
plained principles. It is chiefly a matter of attention,
voluntary and involuntary. Invitations to attention, due
to different sources, can accumulate upon a single syllable.
In the language of everyday life: a woman passes by
wearing white gaiters; we find ourselves giving more units
of attention to her feet than to her face and figure.
Applied to prose, one word or phrase can elicit from us
enough attention to balance it evenly or more than evenly
against a paragraph. The needle which pricks us unex-
pectedly makes us forget the haystack in which it was
hidden. The invitations to attention felt in a phrase may
be of the most varied nature: sensations and associations
due to time, pitch, and stress-patterns, interacting with
tone-color; suggestions due to striking contrasts in mood or
thought; emphasis resulting from mere position at the
beginning or end of a sequence, or, possibly, from some
individual caprice. The less subtle person may say to
himself simply: "This phrase is quite short; the rest of
the sentence is much longer. I enjoy the contrast." In
this case his enjoyment of the contrast gives him the
equipoise which we assume to be requisite to the comfort of
an erect mind.
It would be ridiculous, however, to pretend that every
mind progresses to such a tune of constant balancings.
The naked Hopi Indian, climbing over the rocks to his
cliff-house, moves with all the inevitable grace of a parab-
ola, although the equations of his motion are as com-
plicated as that of the parabola is simple. A city-bred
man would probably cover the same ground with a com-
bination of scrambling and stumbling that might easily
resemble in its curve of progression the sound-photograph
of some peculiar noise. To an aggressively rhythmic
spectator, witnessing both performances, spontaneity, ease,
and fitness between the motions and the task would
characterize the Indian's movements, while awkwardness
and more or less wasted effort would mark the upward
advance of the city-bred man.
In verse the "timer" looks for particular forms of
temporal and accentual "moving balance" from beat to
beat, as when one dances or marches on level ground;
in prose it is as if one climbed over stock and stone, where
it is not a matter of any certain balance-pattern, but of
maintaining an easy succession of balances, whose choice
depends very largely upon economy or upon the line of
least resistance. Thus it is with the rhythm of his thought,
so long as it is conducted by fairly clear images and words. 5
To the aggressively rhythmic even a train of fleeting
imagery usually preserves a certain orderliness of move-
ment, varying from the simple, wave-like curve of grace
to the cumulative swing of dynamic efficiency. But the
essence of the "timer's" thought-rhythm does not seem to
have been heretofore described. It consists in the fusion
of at least two processes : first, the consciousness of tension-
summits, small and large; second, subjective impressions of
temporal intervals between these summits, syncopating or
coinciding with certain pulse-like impressions, marking
subjective units of time. These unitary pulses are elastic,
that is capable of accelerating and retarding, just as when
1 With regard to imageless thought, see Binet, A. and Simon, T. f
Langage et penste, XIV, 1908, p. 339.
88 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
they assist in measuring the intervals of articulate speech;
but in thought-rhythm the possibilities of speed-change
seem to be tremendously increased. Such Protean rhythm
leaps over chasms, dangles on the edge of precipices, swoops
through abysses, shivers itself into atomic dust, or suddenly
liquefies into the dignity of oceans. These measuring
pulses, with their exaggerated range of elasticity, never
quite forsake the "timer's" waking hours. A night of
dreamless sleep shrinks into half a beat, a moment of pain
plays a protracted gamut of duration; but the soul once
definitely committed to the rhythm of subjective time
spins on like a gyroscope, regardless of upsetting.
The general results of the present investigation, including
a statement of whatever well-known principles have been
confirmed, in addition to whatever new explanations and
conclusions seem to be justified by the data adduced in
Appendix III, may be listed as follows:
I. Rhythmic experience, rather than so-called objective
rhythm, deserves the focus of our attention. Rhythmic
performance exhibits interesting objective relations, but the
vital issue, even in performance, is the nature of accom-
panying subjective reactions.
II. Rhythmic experience is so complex, and individuals
differ so largely in the enjoyment of it, that a new phrasing
of its meaning would be necessary for each person, in order
to avoid errors of inaccurate generalization. Nevertheless,
for all practical purposes, its varieties may be roughly
grouped into three kinds: passive, passive with aggressive
tendencies, and thoroughly aggressive. So, there are
inaccurate and accurate manifestations; experiences based
chiefly upon sensations of stress, and experiences based
chiefly upon impressions of time; etc., etc.
III. "Aggressive" implies, first of all, the ability to
organize subjectively into a sort of rhythmic tune any
haphazard series of sounds, provided they are not too close
to be distinguished or too far apart to be held together in
one wave of attention. Observer No. 7 evinces such
ability. A more detailed analysis of aggressive character-
istics is given further on.
IV. Since the rhythmic experience of an aggressive,
fairly accurate "timer" appears to be, not only more
comprehensive, but also much more definite and generally
intelligible than that of any confirmed "stresser," especially
with regard to irregular series of sounds such as characterize
prose utterance, the description of such a "timer's" experi-
ence is the most advisable approach we can make to a
working definition of rhythm, subjectively considered.
V. Rhythmic experience, in the case of the "timer,"
depends, primarily, upon the organization of some part of
consciousness into a series of elastic subjective units of
time (marked by subjective tension-summits or by sensa-
tions of actual muscular contraction). This is his simplest
form of rhythmic experience, which may be amplified
either by the coincidence of any other successive states of
consciousness with this elastic series or by some more
complicated form of coordination, obtained through
syncopation. Elastic means accelerating or retarding,
within limits subjectively determined, beyond which the
impression of substitutional "grouping" takes the place of
"unitary pulses." This means, for instance, that if one
interval is very much faster than another it assumes the
relation to its predecessor of a simple fraction such as one
half or one third rather than the relation of progressive
hastening. According to Squire, 6 the most primitive form
of rhythm, as evinced by children, is unitary. The evi-
dence of certain forms of tom-tom beating, such as some
of those recorded by Boas in connection with the Kwakiutl
Indians, and others observed among the Apaches by the
present writer, indicate that primitive peoples have an
8 Squire, op. tit., p. 540 ff.
90 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
unmistakable fondness for series of monotonous, ungrouped
drum-beats, either alone or combined, by means of syncopa-
tion, with more complicated series of sounds. At certain
rates of speed, the well-known phenomena of subjective
grouping into two's, three's, etc., either voluntary or
involuntary, begin to operate; but it must not be forgotten
that at other somewhat slower rates this subjective group-
ing ceases, although soothing or exciting reactions may
persist. With the aggressive "timer" these affective
reactions are likely to persist until the individual limit of
an attention span is reached.
VI. Precise objective measurement of the syllabic inter-
vals of ordinary prose, spoken in a natural manner, proves
that these intervals must be considered, mathematically, as
forming a virtually haphazard series. Such spoken prose
does not produce an unbroken rhythmic experience, except
for observers, like No. 7, who can subjectively organize,
upon a temporal basis, an objectively irregular drum-beat
VII. Observer No. 7 in certain states of mind, not
always, obtained a continuous, definite rhythmic experience
from every series of drum-beats, however irregular, which
was presented to him. Other observers showed similar
tendencies, but not so clearly. (See record of Observer No.
12, who judges Pater as regular music; Appendix III,
VIII. Wundt's statement, that no series of impressions
exists that cannot in some way be conceived as rhythmic, is
experimentally established, but with the limitation that no
clear, continuous rhythmic experience is possible in connec-
tion with haphazard series, except for individuals especially
IX. When this experience of rhythm is easily produced
by repeated renderings of a passage of prose, and is
accompanied by suggestions of spontaneity (judged by
surprise) in the organization of the time-intervals, stress-
groups, and complex-tension-groups, which are coordinated
with the under-unit of time, two standards (ease and
spontaneity) are attained which may be regarded as
musical. When, however, it becomes possible to judge the
appropriateness of the rhythmic movement to the under-
lying thought and mood, a specific literary standard is
added to the musical point of view. A passage of prose
may thus be said to have rhythmic "possibilities," the sum
of which may be graded high or low according to the
"literary" standard of fitness, in addition to its grading as
X. Language is regarded by a "timer" as rhythmically
"prose" (in its sum of possibilities when uttered) so long as
syncopation and substitution predominate over coincidence
between the accented syllables and an under-unit series of
subjective time-intervals. When coincidence predominates,
language is rhythmically "verse." The division into lines
and stanzas is sufficient often to suggest to the mind the
combination of processes by means of which potential
prose is regarded or felt as verse. This explains Wallin's
XI. Meumann's statement that there is no one sense of
rhythm, but rather a complex of mental processes, is con-
firmed by the results of the tests. Rhythmic experience
may thus be roughly described as a complex of perception,
emotion, and sensation, with all three elements subjected
to the moulding processes of attention, both voluntary and
involuntary. Correlation with a subjective temporal unit,
however, is indispensable to the clear-cut rhythmic satisfac-
tion felt by a "tuner." "Suggestions" of rhythm, to be
sure, are easily derived by the mere repetition of an
accentual sequence such as two accents in one phrase,
matched by two accents in another. But if we examine
7 Wallin, op. cit., p. 64 ff. See also Chapter II, above.
92 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
closely any actual experience, we find that time relations
are inevitably implicated. The "stresser" is consequently
seen to be a "timer" in spite of himself. What makes his
rhythmic experience vague is not that time-sense is absent,
but merely that it is deficient.
XII. Syncopation is an accepted musical term of great
significance in the analysis of rhythmic experience. 8 Sound
rhythm, of course, deals with sounds and silences; but
concomitant with purely sound rhythm is motor rhythm,
thought rhythm, etc. Concomitant sets of time-intervals,
accordingly, when not coinciding, institute one form of
syncopation. Another form occurs when there is inter-
change in the nature of the sensations or movements which
mark off time-intervals. Finger-taps alternating with
spoken syllables are an illustration. The series of tapped
intervals laps over the series marked by syllables.
XIII. "Spontaneous substitution" is a term, used in the
present work, for a principle illustrated almost anywhere in
the sonatas of Beethoven, the nocturnes of Chopin, or such
familiar music as the "Scenes from Childhood" by Schu-
mann. It occurs whenever a triplet, for instance, enters un-
expectedly into the course of a melody already announced,
as a substitute for an equivalent single note. If this triplet
were to occur in each half of the melody at an expected
point, it would, of course, be merely a case of "schematic
substitution." The principle is illustrated very clearly on
the first page of "The Temple of Memphis," composed for
the piano by Cyril Scott. Toward the beginning of the
piece we can see the unit-interval, supposed to be pulsing
regularly in the bass, spontaneously subdivided in the
8 This must not be confused with the limited use of "Syncope,"
as employed by Sievers (Rhythmische-melodische Studien, Heidelberg,
1912, p. 10) to mean the omission of an unaccented syllable in a
"foot," on account of which omission an accented syllable does duty
for the two, etc.
treble, at one time into two, at another into three or four
smaller intervals. Further on we find the unitary pulses
themselves grouped into clusters of varying size. The
majority of observers, in the present tests, without knowing
the source of what they were judging, pronounced the
rhythm to be interesting and pleasant, feeling the unitary
pulses as the dominant impression. Applied as an organiz-
ing factor to the haphazard beats of prose, the principle
was accredited by the observers with considerable value.
XIV. A "subjective accent" in speech is a complex
tension-summit, in which impressions of stress, pitch;
duration, and tone-color, in addition to associations due to
thought and feeling, collaborate in various proportions to
produce a more or less conspicuous foothold for attention.
"Grammatical accent" has been used as a term for the
conventional stress relations between the syllables of a
word, as recorded in dictionaries. Syllables have no
integrity as sensations corresponding to their values as
assigned by convention. Some observers "feel" a three-
syllable word as a continuum with a single crest. It
appears that most observers, influenced largely by con-
vention, experience a three-syllable word as a continuum
with three crests, one higher than the others. Some
observers, however, feel three or four crests in a word of
only two syllables such as "swarming." The same is true
for a series of words uttered together in the continuum of a
phrase. So far as objective measurements are concerned
the sound-photograph of a single vowel frequently exhibits
half a dozen crests.
A subjective accent in which either grammatical or
fortuitous stress predominates may be pitted against an
accent due to logical or rhetorical import. So pitch may
be balanced against duration. This is usually called a
form of "substitutional" or "occult" balance. The ob-
servers differ in the pleasure they elicit from the general
94 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
operation of this principle by degrees ranging from enthu-
siasm to resentment.
XV. "Aggressively rhythmic" is a term applied to those
who, like Observer No. 7, not only attain a fair degree of
reproductive precision in the tests, but evince a marked
pleasure in rhythmic exercises and a marked tendency to
organize upon a temporal subjective basis all of their
conscious life. Abundance and vividness of auditory and
motor imagery; unit accuracy; sense of swing and ability
to syncopate, especially in complex tasks; pleasure in the
effects of acceleration and syncopation; pleasure in unitary
pulses as well as in groupings superimposed upon them;
and, finally, strength of voluntary and involuntary "sub-
jective rhythm," seem to be the conditions of this ability
to organize, upon a time basis, any haphazard series.
Observer No. 7 is "aggressively rhythmic." Observers
No. 1 and 12 show some of the aggressive characteristics,
though not all. "Accurately rhythmic, but passive"
describes Observer No. 11. "Fairly accurate, passively
rhythmic, but with aggressive possibilities" classifies
roughly Observers No. 4, 6, and 8; "inaccurately rhythmic,
with varying degrees of passiveness," Observers No. 2, 3,
5, 9, and 10. This grouping stands, of course, for results
of limited tests. A later set of experiments might easily
change the arrangement.
XVI. An elastic under-unit (either strictly "unitary" or
grouped in two's or three's), spontaneous substitution, and
the imposition of a humming tune, seem to give most
assistance to the present group of observers, taken as a
whole, in obtaining a continuous rhythmic experience out of
haphazard material. But for those who score highest in the
requirements listed under XV for "aggressive rhythmic
sense" (Observer No. 7 and to some extent No. 12) syn-
copation is of prime importance. No. 12 grades it higher
than any of the other organizing factors.
CONCLUSION . 95
XVII. The experiments in syncopation practice with
seven's against five's, together with the judgments passed
by the observers in connection with hearing haphazard
series, point very strongly to the combination of a time-
beating motor performance, such as tapping unitary pulses
with the hand, and the syncopating hummed performance
of the haphazard beats, as the quickest means whereby an
aggressively rhythmic observer can organize the series upon
a basis capable of approximately accurate repetition.
XVIII. For a passively rhythmic observer, the hearing
of such tunes from others, and the watching of their per-
formance, is of great service in developing aggressiveness.
XIX. For aggressively rhythmic states of mind and for
these alone, it is true that "no series of impressions exists
that cannot in some way be conceived as rhythmic"; but
the secret can be made clear to those with aggressive
possibilities, by beating and humming syncopating rhythmic
tunes, in which there is added to the haphazard series the
properly elastic series of unitary pulses.
XX. The tests for individual difference in imitative
"sense of swing" and ability to perform tasks in simple
and complex syncopation show a close correlation in some
cases. But there are marked exceptions. (See Appendix
III, sections vii, viii, xxii, and xxiv.)
XXI. Evident deficiency in auditory imagery is accom-
panied in the present tests by marked inability to syn-
copate, but not necessarily by marked inability to catch
the swing of a series. The indications are that motor
imagery may be of more assistance in the latter operation
than in syncopation. (See Appendix III, sections iv, vii,
viii, xxii, and xxiv.)
XXII. It is a mathematical fact, due merely to the
possibilities of permutation and combination, that all the
conceivable changes in the stress-patterns of language could
easily have been rung long ago. Subtlety of adjustment,
96 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
appropriateness of rhythm to sense, especially in larger
grouping, has "developed"; but until the true psychological
attitude toward rhythm as an experience is observed, any
so-called "history of the development of rhythm" is certain
to be founded upon misconceptions. 9
XXIII. How idle it is to depend on any one "scanning"
of a passage is proved by the tests on "possibility scanning"
described in Appendix III, section xvii. By one observer
a short group of words was found susceptible of being
marked for stress, pitch, duration, and weight, in seven
hundred ways! By two others the number was found to
.be much larger. The marking of grammatical accents
often serves a useful purpose in assisting us to locate
unpleasant monotony, tricks of style, etc., but we should
not forget that rapidity of utterance can smooth out most
of the grammatical accents, while a slow delivery may
create unexpected summits of stress.
XXIV. The recent study of sentence melody, elaborated
by Sievers, is open to similar objections. As the hobby of a
great scholar it is interesting-, and as a poetic speculation
it is no doubt alluring; but as an accurate basis for textual
criticism nothing could be more shaky. It appears fantas-
tic enough to get the "one right" melody out of a printed
stanza of modern verse, but to attempt such necromancy
for an ancient text 10 seems hardly in keeping with the
scientific aims of modern scholarship.
9 Nothing is more astonishing than to find the evidence for some
"remarkable rhythm" adduced in the form of bare conventional
scanning. In a previous study, the writer undertook to mark gram-
matical accent, according to the rules of approved philology, in a few
passages taken out of our oldest Kentish and West-Saxon charters,
about as dry business documents as we possess, and found very
shortly the most varied and entertaining combinations of "phonics"
and "dochmiacs." To see, therefore, these same stress-patterns, or
rather sequences of eye-rhythm, pointed out in a passage of Walter
Pater as an evidence of "development," would be disconcerting.
10 Sievers, E., Zur dlteren Judith, Prag, 1908.
XXV. Three standards ease, spontaneity, and fitness
have been mentioned in section IX, according to which
we pass judgment on rhythmic experience. When we tap
the drum-beat tune of a sentence and establish our synco-
pating under-unit of time, we are in a position to detect
clumsiness, artifice, or impropriety in the swing suggested
by the spoken text. Degree of ease is soon determined by
the facility with which we can nod or tap or move our feet
to the movement of the drum-beat tune. The highest
value, in such a case, would be put upon a sentence in
which the greatest ease was combined with a maximum of
complexity in structure. Our judgments for spontaneity
would depend upon our ability to establish evidence of tech-
nical trickery in the shape of repeated patterns, etc. Fitness
is the most difficult of the three standards to apply. With
a militant theme the propriety of a martial rhythm would
be easy to estimate; but with subtle and suggestive thought
material, it would take almost as much ability to detect a
degree of fitness as to create it. Here, too, is where tone-
color and nicety of diction may be easily mistaken for the
actual rhythmic movement, which, of course, they influence.
XXVI. All judgments of rhythmic experience connected
with prose depend upon individual renderings of the
passage, which must be read aloud repeatedly, as well as
tapped. Underlying the variations resulting from such a
series of renderings, three causes or motives may be men-
tioned: caprice, economy, and artistic adjustment. In the
first place, a certain tempo or a certain sequence of stress-
groups may easily depend upon a whim. The second
motive rests upon the fact that good form is economical.
Efficiency in delivering a message demands sometimes bal-
ance, sometimes contrast; sometimes progressive increase
or the reverse; sometimes speed, sometimes more dignity
of pace. The third motive implies, not simply specific
attempts at an appropriate rhythm, but a sportive interest
98 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
in the problem of multiplying complications without
sacrificing ease, as if it were all a sort of game. This
verges readily into artifice.
XXVII. Fundamental rhythmic experience, in the case
of a timer, listening to spoken language, is either the result
of coincidence or syncopation between the measuring pulses
and the objective stimulus; i.e., it is either verse or prose
experience, according to the form of coordination which
predominates. A secondary broader rhythm may be
superimposed in which the arrangement of groups is either
symmetrical or unsymmetrical. The enjoyment of this is
often more a matter of sensations of static balance than of
temporal succession. Only when the temporal intervals
involved are in the forefront is the resulting experience
strictly rhythmical. In any case, these four elements
fundamental prose and fundamental verse experience,
"superimposed symmetrical and superimposed unsymmetrical
broader grouping make possible four combinations:
prose experience, grouped symmetrically, as in the reaction
from parts of the Authorized Version where verses match
each other; prose experience, grouped unsymmetrically, as
in the reaction from ordinary conversation or the reading
of average so-called "prose"; verse experience, grouped
symmetrically, as in the reaction from ordinary "poetry";
verse experience, grouped unsymmetrically, as in the re-
action from "freer" forms of poetry and from passages of
would-be prose. This applies to "timers." As soon as we
substitute for their clear-cut forms of temporal coordination
the vague impressions of a "stresser" with defective time-
sense, it is impossible to make distinctions, and all the
delusions of certain writers of "vers libre" and "poetic
prose" take possession of the field.
XXVIII. The student of rhetoric who wishes to develop
possibilities of rhythmic excellence in his attempts to write
verse, even though he be by nature deficient in time-sense,
may be brought to feel the difference between compositions
that are merely "correct" and "duly varied," both syllab-
ically and metrically, and verse in which ease, spontaneity,
and fitness in the drum-beat tunes are also included among
the criteria. It is presupposed, of course, that a satis-
factory adjustment of vowel and consonant color, as well
as of associations due to fundamental thought and feeling,
must be likewise attained.
So there needs to be a new procedure in the study of
prose composition. It is here that a native "stresser,"
with defective time-sense, particularly needs to sharpen his
blunted perceptions. While he reads the standard authors
he should walk or tap or nod an accompaniment, with his
attention fixed on syncopation rather than coincidence.
If he really wishes to develop his time-sense systematically,
he should make himself expert in the automatic perform-
ance of syncopating tasks, such as tapping two's against
three's or even five's against seven's (a comparatively easy
feat if only he can be assisted by some one who himself
has mastered it, and who can let him hear the drum-beat
tune of a fairly correct performance, as is indicated roughly
in Appendix II, section xxiv, sub-sections 2 and 3). In any
case let him tap off the drum-beat rhythm of his most
impelling experience with a sentence till he learns it; then
let him hum it as a sort of tune, while he establishes, by
beating tune with his hand, the proper accelerating and
retarding series of unitary pulses with which it is freely to
syncopate. The rhythmic tunes thus learned from Sir
Thomas Browne, De Quincey, or Pater will sing themselves
in his head while he does his own writing, so that without
knowing it, he will be guided in his choice of words toward
whatever rhythmic facility it is in him to acquire. The
last step would be to reclothe the drum-beat tunes with
the complicated veil of tone-color and sense-association due
to their original words, and let them dance themselves, by
100 THE RHYTHM OF PROSE
means of repeated practice, into the automatic processes of
the brain. If they help us at all, they probably help us
most when thus hidden.
XXIX. Many of the methods of literary criticism need
to be revised in a similar way. Any judgment passed upon
the rhythmic possibilities of an author's style, is of no
value psychologically, if motor response is neglected as a
test. 11 Vague impressions from a person whose musical ear
is abnormally keen may easily be considered of greater
value than mechanical analysis on the part of some un-
musical, unliterary hair-splitter; but the time is surely past
when any man of unusual endowment is willing to throw
away the advantages of efficient method or to oppose his
so-called "intuition," subject as all human senses are to
countless illusions, to the cumulative evidence of experi-
Any experimental undertaking, however, which is not
based upon a thorough understanding of syncopation and
its multiform possibilities, of spontaneous substitution, of
acceleration and retarding, and the "sense of swing," will
find the problem slippery. Fortunately, all of these factors,
once made plain even to a passively rhythmic mind, are
much easier to apply in the actual study of a bit of prose,
than the ancient trumpery of skeleton scanning "am-
phibrachs," "bacchics," "anti-bacchics," "antispasts,"
"molossi," "dochmiacs," and " proceleusmatics " which
heretofore have been brandished before our eyes, as if
they were anything more than, as stress-patterns, merely
half the story.
Each individual must make his own rhythmic judgments
as to spontaneity, ease, and fitness. The judgments as to
fitness, involving every form of association and suggestion,
11 According to Stetson, "Every rhythm is dynamic; it consists of
actual movements." See Chapter II, above, for statements from
would include descriptive terms for any particular move-
ment, as well as for special types of subjective syncopation.
Adjectives of all degrees of definiteness (such as "cumula-
tive," "undulating," "rugged," "languorous," "martial,"
"galloping," "soothing," "exciting," "dignified," or "bois-
terous") would still be used to illustrate motor and sensory
suggestions. "Falling" and "rising," as terms descriptive
of patterns in which the precedence of accented or unac-
cented syllables is emphasized, possess just as much sig-
nificance, and, in fact, much more when the temporal
element is duly valued.
Finally, to make a shift from literary criticism to broader
fields, there may issue from investigations similar to the
present one, as a possible result significant for music, for
literature, and for living in general a more or less fruitful
interest, on the part of the moderately rhythmic, in their
chance to breathe the air of a garden, from which they
were before excluded. There is still for them a wall to be
climbed, but at least there are no " proceleusmatic " palings
on the top of it. The condition imposed, that we should learn
to syncopate, if we wish to advance into the secret places of
rhythmic experience, is not so forbidding as it sounds. So
far as the requisite technique is concerned, every optimistic
little African who performs the double-shuffle has, in a
measure, "attained." For instruments, all we need is a
table, and two fingers with which to practice tapping.
XXX. To what an extent an individual whose rhythmic
proficiency is less than moderate can develop the charac-
teristics of an aggressive "timer," is a matter for further
investigation and experiment. It seems, at any rate,
assured from the tests already made in syncopation practice
(see Appendix III, section xxiv) that an observer, appar-
ently deficient in temporal perception, can very quickly
surprise himself by his achievements, when assisted by the
harmless magic of a drum-beat tune.
DESCRIPTION OF APPARATUS
For the purpose of the experiments two rooms were used: one
the regular sound-room belonging to the Department of Psychology
at Columbia; the other, an especially constructed, fairly sound-proof
cabinet built into one end of an underground room belonging to the
Department of Physics. Within this cabinet a second cabinet was
set up, with mattresses and thick padding for walls and ceiling, and
several inches of sawdust on the floor. Loose curtains of canton-
flannel were hung inside to assist in preventing reflection of sound.
Within these surroundings, devised to exclude as much as possible of
external noise, and to destroy as much as possible of internal reflec-
tion, were installed the instruments for transforming by means of a
diaphragm and small mirrors, 1 the vibrations of the voice into vibra-
tions of a light-ray, susceptible of being photographed. The camera,
including the machinery for regulating the motion of the film, was
placed on the other side of a padded partition which cut off the larger
cabinet from the rest of the room, A very small plate-glass window,
set into the partition, allowed the ray of light used in the photographs
to pass from the inner cabinet into the camera, containing the moving
One of the chief difficulties in securing accurate sound-photographs
consists in getting a source of light which is not only sufficiently strong,
but sufficiently quiet. The spluttering of an arc-light, which seems
to have been used in similar photography, previous to our experi-
ments in the summer of 1915, is in itself sufficient to communicate
sound vibrations to a highly sensitive diaphragm. Our experiments,
accordingly, appear to have been the first in which the photography
of continuous speech, involving the possibility for several hundred feet
of rapidly moving film to pass by without intermission, was accom-
plished with a system of convenient, noiseless, steady sources of light.
1 As far back as 1878, the time of Blake's experiments, and probably
earlier, such instruments have been in use. See also Rigollot, H.,
and Chavanon, A., Projection des ph&nomknes acoustiques, Journal de
physique, II, 1883.
104 APPENDIX I
In order to carry out our purpose, small Mazda lights were used
and burned at an abnormally high voltage. Each lamp was placed
in a cylindrical case of metal and a ray from a portion of the straight
filament was allowed to escape through a slit in the side of the case.
This ray was conveyed through a converging lens to a small mirror
attached to a very light steel axle turning upon bearings of glass.
This axle was connected with a mica diaphragm by means of a human
hair wound once about the axle, with one end fastened to the dia-
phragm and the other to a metal spring which projected in front of
the mirror. The system of connecting diaphragms with mirrors of
this nature has been hi use for some tune. D. C. Miller 1 describes
such a diaphragm connected with the axle by means of a quartz thread.
Miller, in his very well known investigations, has made many photo-
graphs of sound with an arc-ray as a source of light. Oscillographs
have, of course, been in use for a number of years.
In order to secure a time-line sufficiently accurate for the purposes
of the present experiments, a similar ray from a Mazda light was
conveyed to a mirror mounted upon a spring in front of a small magnet,
through which a weak, alternating current was passed. 3 By means
of this a rate of approximately sixty vibrations per second could be
counted upon in the ray of light reflected from the mirror. This
vibrating ray was directed, by means of a lens and a second mirror,
through the window in the partition to a horizontal slit just in front
of the moving film. The image from the ray, being a vertical line
of light, crossed the slit at right angles. A similar ray from the mirror
in front of the diaphragm was projected so that the image fell at right
angles to the slit, a little to one side of the vibrating time-line image.
The intersections of these two lines with the slit formed two points
of light, vibrating in a horizontal direction, and photographing them-
selves upon the vertically moving film in the form of two continuous
curves. By means of rheostats, the electrically driven machinery
within the camera could be adjusted to carry the film past the slit at
varying rates of speed.
The chief object in the present set of experiments was to obtain as
1 Miller, D. C., in Engineering, 1912, p. 550 ff. Some tune after
the present experiments were finished, Miller's latest investigations
have appeared in the form of a book, The Science of Musical Sounds,
N. Y., 1916. This contains a detailed description of his "phonodeik."
1 The disadvantage connected with a time-line produced by the
vibrations of a tuning-fork is that even a very fault humming sound
will affect a sensitive diaphragm.
DESCRIPTION OF APPARATUS 105
accurate and as measurable a record of the human voice as possible
without the restraint and artificiality imposed by having to speak into
voice-keys or mouth-pieces of any kind. By employing a rather
sensitive mica diaphragm it was possible, on account of the noise-
lessness of the machinery employed, for an observer to stand inside
of the cabinet at a comfortable distance from the instrument and
have his speech recorded, without his even knowing it. A complete
solution, consequently, seems to have been found to the problem
whose difficulty prevented Sievers, hi the Vorwort to his Phonetik,
edition of 1901, from giving his sanction to experimental phonetics.
In addition to other precautions that seemed to be advisable, the
diaphragm was roughly calibrated. The points of pitch at which
phenomena of resonance occurred were located and graphs of the
results were made for purposes of correction in any later measurement
of amplitudes. The testing of the diaphragm was effected by means
of organ pipes under pneumatic pressure. During this operation, as
well as during the process of making photographs, an attempt was
made to keep the cabinet at a constant temperature of about 18 degrees
The apparatus made use of in the series of experiments carried out
in the sound-room of the Psychological Department included, first
of all, a Leipzig time-sense machine, driven by clock-work, which
also governed the motion of a kymograph. The adjustments were
made so that the revolving bar of the time-machine made one revolu-
tion in four seconds, .06 of a second being registered by one milli-
meter on the surface of the smoked drum operated by the kymograph.
By means of a microscope, readings to .01 of a second were easily
possible. For the purposes of the experiments, however, an accuracy
of .02 of a second was all that was desired. This, too, is a safer basis
of estimate, when the slight irregularities of all kymographs, even
when driven by clockwork, are taken into consideration.
The seven mercury contacts on the circumference of the time-
sense machine were used in several ways. For the experiment in simple
syncopation six of them were placed at equal intervals of sixty degrees,
while the seventh one was sufficiently depressed to avoid a response
from the electric sounder attached to the machine. By this means,
as the bar revolved, a series of successive clicks, .66 sec. apart, was
produced by the sounder. A pointer resting on the revolving drum
and connected with the sounder registered upon the drum the series
of clicks. A second pointer, connected with an electric key for tapping,
registered the attempts of the observer to introduce syncopating
taps halfway between the clicks of the sounder.
106 APPENDIX I
The same setting of the contacts was used when the observer was
asked to tap five times, as regularly as possible, during the time that
the machine produced seven clicks. For the acceleration experiment
the seven contacts were set in such a way that their intervals pro-
duced a series of clicks whose spacing, in terms of time, was as follows:
.7 sec., .6 sec., .5 sec., .5 sec., .6 sec., .7 sec. After the reproductions
of this series made by the observer had been measured, according to
the system explained in Appendix II, the contacts were set from time
to time so that the observer could himself hear from the machine those
of his reproductions chosen for final judgment and comparison with
the original series as given by the machine. This procedure made
it possible to carry out to some extent Miiller's suggestion 4 in his
Methodik that in experiments with time-sense an observer might by
some such means be given an opportunity to compare his reproduc-
tions with the original stimulus in both orders of time.
In addition to the time-sense machine and kymograph with its
attachments, a sound pendulum, a soundless pendulum, a box metro-
nome, an outside metronome mounted upon felt, a Stern variator
with pneumatic tank attachments, an Edison four-minute cylinder
phonograph, and finally a small specially constructed metal drum
about five centimeters in diameter, covered at one end with a thin
sheet of phosphor-bronze, were employed in the various tests. The
drum was calculated to produce, when struck by a stick tipped with a
small piece of hard rubber, a clear but not obtrusively loud sound,
with as little suggestion of musical tone as possible. When the drum
was tapped, accordingly, the attention of the hearer could be concen-
trated upon the length of the time intervals between the blows and
the variations in the intensity of the latter. A series of taps upon
this drum, performed by Observer No. 1 (in accordance with "felt"
syllables in passages of prose, and notes in music), were recorded
upon the phonograph. Judgments were passed upon the nature and
presumable origin of these taps, by the remaining observers. A tunable
reed-organ was used in the harmony tests. Some of the tests for
types of imagery and time-estimation were made in the padded cabinet
in which the sound-photographing apparatus was installed.
4 Miiller, G. E., Die Gesichtspunkte und d. Tatsachen d. psychophy-
sischen Methodik, Wiesbaden, 1904, p. 205.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(For results see
I. Preliminary questionnaire 108 (130)
II. Pulse-rate (rough) 109 (130)
III. Breath-rate (rough) 109 (130)
IV. Image-type test (rough) 109 (131)
V. Unit-accuracy simple form 110 (131)
VI. Subjective rhythm 110 (132)
VII. Acceleration experiment (test for "swing") . Ill (133)
VIII. Schedule syncopation. 113 (143)
IX. Complex coordination 113 (144)
X. Walking-rate, etc. (rough) 113 (148)
XL Pitch memory (rough) 114 (149)
XII. Harmony memory (rough) 114 (150)
XIII. Vowel-quality memory (rough) 115 (151)
XIV. Choice of "swing" reproductions 116 (151)
XV. Intensity memory (rough) 116 (151)
XVI. Drum-beat rhythm of texts 117 (152)
XVII. "Possibility" scanning 118 (157)
One week after Second Day
XVIII. Pulse consciousness 118 (158)
XIX. Breath-segments 118 (158)
XX. Photograph of seven-day-memory reproduc-
tion of acceleration series 119 (159)
XXL Judgment and line-division 119 (159)
108 APPENDIX II
XXII. Simple syncopation 119 (159)
XXIII. Reaction to five's and seven's 120 (160)
XXIV. Complex syncopation (involving regulated
practice) 120 (161)
XXV. Individual "swing" 122 (162)
XXVI. Musical" swing" 122 (167)
XXVII. Phonograph test 122 (168)
XXVIII. Questionnaire 124 (170)
XXIX. Schedule tests 125 (170)
XXX. Questionnaire 127 (172)
XXXI. Unitary music (first test) 127 (173)
XXXII. Unitary pulses 127 (174)
XXXIII. Unitary music (second test) 127 (174)
XXXIV. Factors in organizing drum-beat series . . . 128 (175)
I. Preliminary questionnaire:
1. Age, descent, profession, amount of musical training.
2. Describe your favorite type or types of music and your men-
tal and physical reactions on hearing such music.
3. Do you consider yourself as of a more or less even tempera-
ment or given to moods?
4. Are you slow or quick in forming likes and dislikes?
5. Have you ever been affected by music in a manner that could
have been plainly visible to others?
6. Describe your interest in dancing.
7. Can you imagine yourself as interested in complicated drum-
beating? To what extent?
8. If interested in verse at all, mention one of your favorite
9. If interested in prose style at all, mention one of your favo-
rite authors in this connection.
10. Have you ever written original verse?
11. Describe the sort of events that usually occur in your dreams.
Do you see things, do things, or hear things, chiefly?
12. Can you mention any actual word or words you have heard
in a dream?
13. Can you name any sort of activity in which you could take
a definite interest because of subtlety in its form? In
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 109
other words, could you enjoy a pattern or a problem just
because it was elusive?
14. Do you consider that your scientific or artistic or practical
n. Pulse-rate (rough): Determined with stop-watch for two ten-
second stretches and one thirty-second stretch.
m. Breath-rate (rough): Observer raises finger at the beginning of
each inspiration, while the experimenter records the number
indicated during thirty seconds.
IV. Image-type test (rough) :
First half: The observer is given a list of printed words concealed
by a loose sheet of paper. He slips the sheet down so as to expose
one word at a time. The instant he has read the word he closes
his eyes and attempts to identify the first image that comes into
his mind after the image of the printed word itself, if this happens
to persevere. Thereupon he opens his eyes and marks the nature
of the image according to the following abbreviations:
V - visual Temp - temperature
A = auditory P - pain
Olf - olfactory Org - organic
G - gustatory K - kirurst hot ic
T - touch O - nothing at all
All images of actual words, seen, heard, or spoken, are to be
marked as such: V-verb, or K-verb, A- verb. Units of vividness
are also to be added: 3 for vivid, 2 for medium, 1 for dim.
Second half: The observer, with his eyes closed, hears a list of
words read by the experimenter. After each word the observer
reports the kind of image evoked according to the above classifi-
LIST or STIMULUS words:
1. (read by observer) : hurry, fountain, clover, yawn, pool, steam,
decayed tooth, wind, rooster, whistle.
2. (heard by observer) : plunge, bell, breathing, spool, ice, flutter,
skate, fish, owl, crush.
Observer No. 1, who was chosen to figure in a special way in
the latter part of the experiments, was given an additional test
several days after the first one. Both tests were given in the
padded cabinet, with the following list of words for the second
110 APPENDIX II
1. (read by observer): dynamite, syllable, splash, coffee, swift,
lion, thrash, bumble-bee, plaster, salt.
2. (heard by observer): storm, waltz, apple-tree, rain-drops,
health, lemonade, drum, sea-gull, donkey, splinter.
V. Unit-accuracy simple form:
Task: To reproduce at once, as the unit of a regular series last-
ing for fifteen seconds, an interval given by two clicks of the
sounder in connection with the time-sense machine. Observer
to hold himself in readiness for an interval of any size between one
fifth of a second and two seconds, adjusting himself as quickly as
he can, so that the interval between the last click of the sounder
and his first tap shall be as close as possible in size to the stimulus
interval he is attempting to reproduce. The signals are: "Close
your eyes!" "Ready!", "Now!", and "Stop!".
1. Preliminary: E (experimenter) produces rough .2 sec. interval
by moving bar across one of the contacts twice. (observer)
begins at once to tap on key till E says "Stop! "
2. Preliminary: E produces rough 2 sec. interval. O reproduces
in the form of a series, according to directions.
3. Regular: O is instructed to be prepared for any length of inter-
val between the limits assigned. Immediately after "Now!"
sounder connected with time-sense machine produces .2 sec.
interval as the standard. O taps series for fifteen seconds.
4. Regular: Time-sense machine (tsm) produces .7 sec. as a stand-
ard. O taps series.
(The apparatus is provided with a switch, cutting off the sounder
from the mercury contacts until the revolving bar has attained its
VI. Subjective rhythm: (metronome in padded box)
(a) No suggestion:
Instruction: "You are going to hear a series of sounds for
about forty-five seconds. When it is over you are to dictate a
brief account of your state of consciousness during the series
what you hear, how it affects you, etc."
Signals: "Close your eyes!", "Ready!", "Now!", "All-
Metronome at .3 sec. (approx.) for forty-five seconds.
O dictates introspection.
(6) With suggestion of grouping idea:
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 111
Instruction: "Describe as exactly as you can the relative
duration and intensity of the sounds you are about to hear.
Notice whether the series appears to be a succession of per-
fectly even sounds, or whether any particular form of grouping
(1) Metronome at .8 sec. (approx.) for forty-five seconds.
O dictates introspection.
(2) Metronome at .3 sec. (approx.) for forty-five seconds.
O dictates introspection.
Metronome at .3 sec. O to close eyes and raise finger as
soon as he has clearly established (by imposition) the follow-
(O's No. 1, 2, and 3 were also tested for 2's, 7's, and ll's
in voluntary rhythm and for additional rates of .5 sec. and .8
sec. for involuntary rhythm.)
VII. Acceleration experiment (test for "swing"): (tsm, kymo, metr)
Task: To hear a series of regular intervals given by a metronome
(at .7 sec.) until a subordinate second beat has been felt (subjec-
tively) between every two beats of the metronome. If O finds
this difficult he is asked to say to himself the word "Top" (with
distinct enunciation of the final consonant) each time he hears
the click of the metronome. The letter "p" thus marks the sec-
ondary beat required. As soon as this transformation of the beats
of the metronome into a series of subjective bars or groups of
two is either attained or found to be impossible, the experiment
proceeds at once.
O is to hear from the tsm sounder a series of six intervals,
marked by seven clicks. He understands that the first of these
intervals is the same which he has been subjectively cutting in
two during the beats of the metronome. He also understands
that the succeeding five intervals are faster or slower variations
of the standard interval, and that it is his task to catch the pro-
gression in speed, whether positive or negative, and reproduce it
by a series of seven taps upon the key connected with the kymo-
graph. He has been told the reason for imaging a secondary after-
beat for each click; i.e., the after-beat is to prevent him from
instinctively regarding the series of six intervals as a rhythmic
group of long and short intervals bearing relations of simple
112 APPENDIX II
proportion to each other, instead of as a series of accelerating and
retarding values of the standard interval. The need of these
precautions was determined by preliminary experiments.
After E is convinced, by signals or otherwise, that O is able to
regard the metronome series as a succession of bars or that the
achievement is in his particular case an impossibility (which did
not occur in the course of the experiments), the metronome is
stopped, and after the lapse of a few seconds, the time-sense
machine produces the series of six intervals, arranged according
to the following progression: .7 sec., .6 sec., .5 sec., .5 sec., .6 sec., .7
sec., in other words, an acceleration of the standard interval up
to a momentary level of .5 sec., followed by a retardation back to
the standard interval. This series is given by tsm three times,
with an interval of about four seconds between. After the third
time, O first images what he has just heard, then taps upon his
key, to the best of his ability, a reproduction of the six intervals.
Immediately after this, O announces "a" or "b" degree of
confidence in having expressed his feeling of the swing of R (the
series of intervals as given by tsm). Eight such reproductions are
recorded, after every two of which O chooses one as the "better"
of the two, or at any rate his "choice" for purposes of measure-
E's procedure in measurement is determined as follows: In
any case, only the four reproductions judged as "better" are to
be measured, and the two most approximately accurate, selected
for the later continuation of the experiment; but precedence is
given in this choice to those of the four "better" reproductions
which are also marked with an "a" (degree of confidence). If
three or more "a's" occur, the two most accurate are taken; if
only two "a's" occur they are taken, irrespective of measurement;
otherwise, the one "a" that occurs and the most accurate "b,"
or, if no "a's" occur, the two most accurate "b's." The two re-
productions thus selected are kept, after being measured, for
the second day, when O is given a chance to hear them reproduced
by tsm and to compare them with the original series in both
orders of tune, according to the suggestion derived from Muller's
The acceleration experiment (first day) is concluded as follows:
Tsm gives R again three times. At every click of the machine
O murmurs "Top" aloud, adjusting his "top's" as well as he can
Miiller, op. cit. p. 205.
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 113
to the clicks of the sounder, with the attempt to utter the final
"p" each time as a secondary beat between the clicks. After he
has thus accompanied R three times, he records as before his
memory of R, uttering "top" again each time that he taps his
key. Finally, he is told to keep R in mind for future experiment.
Schedule syncopation: (metr and kymo)
O listens to metr at .5 sec. interval for ten seconds; then, after
the regular signals, taps according to schedule, omitting a tap
where the schedule contains a zero, and substituting for it a sub-
jective beat, in such a way as to approximate as closely as pos-
sible to the standard interval, as given by the metronome, in the
execution of his recorded taps and the subjective beats inter-
1. Preliminary: taps 0"0 OO'O O'OO '00', etc. (repeated) for
2. Regular: O taps same schedule for twenty seconds.
IX. Complex coordination, involving unit accuracy: (metr, kymo, foot-
O to accompany metr at .5 sec. and follow schedule.
RF = right foot rf = right finger
LF - left foot If = left finger
"Ta" and "clo" are to be uttered where they occur in the
schedule, and taps by feet or fingers omitted. Time is given for
O to understand schedule thoroughly, then metronome is started,
and after the usual signals from E, O begins.
1. Preliminary: O accompanies metr according to the following
schedule: RF rf If "ta," LF rf If "clo," etc. (repeated)
for twenty seconds.
2. Regular: O follows same schedule for twenty seconds.
X. Walking-rate, etc. (rough):
O is asked to walk up and down the main hall of the building
until he has attained what he considers a normal, comfortable
walking gait, such as he would fall into if he were walking for
pleasure. He is to keep up this gait, as far as he is able, when he
reenters the laboratory, where his rate is measured by E with a
stop-watch, according to the number of steps he takes within
Similarly, O is asked to nod with his head, tap with his finger,
sway with his hips from side to side as he stands erect, and fi-
nally to utter the syllable "ta," at what he considers comfortable
114 APPENDIX II
rates, such as he would find easy to keep up for some time. Each
of the rates is determined by counting the number of movements
made within a stretch of ten seconds. O is also asked to specify
which of the above measured forms of motion he prefers. Longer
tests would, of course, be more accurate.
XI. Pitch memory (rough): (Stern variator):
O hears a tone from the variator at a certain pitch. It is given
three times, with a duration of about one second and an interval
of about one second. Then comes an interval of about three
seconds, after which ten notes are sounded, three of them at the
original pitch and the rest above or below it. O is asked to iden-
tify the position of the notes corresponding to the original stimulus
on a blank schedule which is given to him.
1. Preliminary: Instructions accompanying schedule:
"The following ten spaces correspond to the series of ten
notes you will hear, after the original R has been given three
tunes. This original R will occur altogether three times in
the series. Mark the spaces where you think it occurs with
In giving R and the subsequent series E's schedule is as follows:
R = 240 (given three times)
Series: 241 239 240 242 238 240 237 240 243 239
2. Regular: A similar procedure is followed except that O hears
the giving of the stimulus and the subsequent series repeated
as a whole three times. During each time he marks upon a
schedule the places where he thinks R occurs. A final line of
ten blank spaces occurs upon the schedule on which he is to
record his final revision of judgment, for which he is given
E's schedule: R = 250
Series: 247 260 253 260 252 248 250 255 252 248
O's No. 1, 2, and 3 were also given the following test with
a broader range. R occurred once in five.
E's schedule: R = 275.
Series: (a) 270 300 280 270 276
(6) 250 280 276 285 270
(c) 300 250 285 276 280
XII. Harmony memory, (rough): (tunable reed-organ)
O is to recognize where a given chord occurs in a series of ten.
He is supplied with schedule blanks as before.
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 115
1. Preliminary: R - c g c' e' (c being middle c; c', the octave
Series: bgb'e' c#gc#V cgc'e' bg#b'e' cgc'e' bg#b'e' c#gc'e'
bgb'e' bg#b'e' cgc'e'
2. Regular: R=b#d#g#b'
Series: bd#gb' bd#f#b' bdgb^ begb' bd#f#b' begb' bdgb' bd#gb'
Xin. Vowel-quality memory, (rough) :
E chants vowels at low C. O is to identify a certain group of
vowel sounds, containing five discrete members, as it occurs in a
series of five such groups. Schedules are used as before.
1. Preliminary: R - ee ay ee oo oh (rate of about two vowels
per second, given three times, 1.5 sec. interval)
Series: ee ee ay oh oo
oh ay ee oo oh
ee ay ee oo oh
ee ay ee oh oo
oo ee ay oo oh
(1.5 sec. interval between groups, 10 seconds at end for
(a) R - ah ay ee oo oh (given three times)
Series: ah ay oo ee oh
ay oo ee ay oo
ay ah oo ay oh
ah ay ee oo oh
ay ah ee oh oo
(6) R - ay ee ay ah ee
Series: ah ee ee ah ay
ah ee ay ah ee
ay ee ay ah ee
ay ee ah ee ay
ah ee ay ah ee
(c) R - oo oh oh ah oo
Series: oh oo oo ah oh
oo oh oh oo ah
oo ah oh oh oo
ah oh oh ah oo
oo oh oh ah oo
116 APPENDIX II
XIV. Choice of "swing" reproductions: (tsm)
O's two reproductions selected from the first day's measurements
are referred to as 1 and 2; the original six intervals, as given by
the machine, are referred to as R.
E sets contacts for R, then for 1; then for R again, and then
for 2. O hears all four with closed eyes, being instructed to com-
pare 1 and 2, as he hears them in this order, with the original
stimulus. An interval of about thirty seconds occurs between
every two series of clicks that he hears.
E now sets contacts first for 1, and then for R; then for 2,
and then for R again. O makes a final choice between 1 and 2,
as to which comes closer to his feeling for the "swing" of R.
O is asked not to practise for a week his memory of R, either by
tapping or with the voice, but to be ready at the expiration of
that time to utter, by means of seven consecutive "tops," his
memory of it. This reproduction, spoken in the sound-photo-
graphing cabinet, will be recorded on the film.
XV. Intensity memory (rough) : (sound-pendulum)
O hears a stimulus intensity, roughly produced by the blow of
a pendulum, weighted with a ball of metal at the end, falling
through a certain distance upon a piece of stationary metal. He
is then asked to identify its triple recurrence in a series of ten
such impacts. Five degrees of intensity (rough) are produced by
allowing the sound-pendulum to fall from positions of varying
height. In the present test, which was meant to be nothing more
than suggestive, the pendulum was allowed to fall from these
five positions by the right hand of E. His left hand was used to
catch the pendulum on its rebound. The sound-pendulum appara-
tus was encased in a box lined with heavy felt, in order to prevent
as much reflection of sound as possible. O first heard the five
intensities given in order, beginning with the weakest. After a
pause of a few seconds, E gave the stimulus intensity three times,
about two seconds apart. Then, after a pause of about three
seconds, the series was given. A soundless pendulum was in
sight of E, to assist in determining the pauses. The sounds in the
series were given about two seconds apart. The following is
E's schedule, in which 1 represents the weakest intensity; 5, the
Stimulus or standard intensity: 3 (given three times)
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 117
XVI. Drum-beat rhythm of texts:
Three sentences, marked A, B, and C, were used in this ex-
A. De Quincey, "Our Lady of Darkness," from Confessions of
an English Opium-Eater, Masson's edition of De Quincey's
works, London, 1890, Vol. XIII, p. 368:
"For she can approach only those in whom a profound
nature has been upheaved by central convulsions; in whom
the heart trembles and the brain rocks under conspiracies of
tempest from without and tempest from within."
B. Newman, "Grammar of Assent," Longmans, Green, & Co.,
1909, p. 78:
"Then he comes to understand how it is that lines, the
birth of some chance morning or evening at an Ionian festi-
val, or among the Sabine hills, have lasted generation after
generation, for thousands of years with a power over the mind,
and a charm which the current literature of his own day,
with all its obvious advantages, is utterly unable to rival."
C. Pater, "Leonardo da Vinci," from The Renaissance, Mac-
Millan's ed., London, 1914, p. 110:
"He who thus penetrated into the most secret parts of
nature preferred always the more to the less remote, what,
seeming exceptional, was an instance of law more refined, the
construction about things of a peculiar atmosphere and
E gives the three sentences to O with a word or two of expla-
nation of the connection in which they were written, but with no
information as to the author or the name of the essay or book in
which they occur. O glances over A, B, and C, and dictates a
brief account of what he considers to be the quality of each with
regard to mood (as stormy, calm, solemn, gay, poetic, matter-of-
fact, etc.); thought (simple, complex, etc.); and, finally, vowel
and consonant color (dark, light, or mixed; smooth, rugged, or
O then beats on the phosphor-bronze drum (not more than
three times) the syllabic rhythm of A, B, and C, as he reads them
to himself. After the first drum-beating he is to pass judgment on
his own performance, so that, as far as possible he may be able
to answer the following questions: How would the series of drum-
beats you have just performed affect you, if you heard someone
else beating it upon a drum, and had no idea of its being connected
with a passage of prose? If it would interest you, can you say
118 APPENDIX II
why? If not, can you say why? Does your drum-beating fall
into parts? If so, are they related?
O then grades A, B, and C, with units (3 = high, 2 = moderate,
1 - low) in respect to three different qualities:
1. Fitness of form (rhythm and tone-color) with regard to con-
tent (mood and thought);
2. Ease and spontaneity of rhythmic flow;
3. Complexity of thought and mood problem (O is to grade as
"low" a sentence in which it would appear to be an easy task
to find fitting rhythm for the underlying thought and feeling,
if one were the author).
O then adds a grade of 3, 2, or 1 (in this case units of rela-
tive order), with respect to the pleasure he derives from the
drum-beat rhythm of each of the sentences.
XVII. " Possibility " scanning:
O's No. 1, 2, and 3 were the only ones that took part in this
experiment. They were asked to scan texts A, B, and C of the
previous experiment upon the following basis:
Each syllable and pause, felt as such, is to be marked with
units (3 = high, 2 = moderate, 1 = low) of "possible" intensity,
"possible" pitch, "possible" duration, and "possible" additional
weight or interest, due either to thought and mood or to details
of tone-color, etc. "Possible" is understood to mean also "prob-
able" that is, it includes the degrees of these four qualities
which the observer can easily imagine himself as attaining under
different moods. The object of this experiment is to determine
the safety or danger of announcing any one scanning of a passage
as an indication of its final "rhythmic" value.
(Third Day, one week after Second Day)
XVIII. Pulse consciousness:
O 'sits in the dark, inside of the padded cabinet, in a relaxed
position. At a signal from E, there begins a stretch of forty sec-
onds, at the end of which O is to report whether he was conscious
at all of his heart-beats or of pulse-beats in any part of his body.
O is now asked the following question: "Do you ever think of
your breath as divided into parts in any way?"
O is asked to breathe for thirty seconds and report again. He
is then asked more definitely if he thinks of his inspirations as
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 119
bearing a simple mathematical relation to his expirations, or,
rather, as bearing a vague relation to each other.
XX. Photograph of seven-day-memory reproduction of acceleration
O is reminded that the stimulus consisted of seven clicks, in-
volving acceleration and retarding. They are to be reproduced,
in as exact a manner as possible, by uttering the word "top"
seven times. The final consonant in "top" is to be pronounced
distinctly so as to cut the intervals approximately in hah". O is
to hear, for about ten seconds, a metronome beating regularly the
first interval of the series. He has no information except his
memory as to the extent of acceleration and retarding to which
this interval was subjected in the original series. He first makes a
preliminary trial, after which his next reproduction is regularly
XXI. Judgment and line-division:
O is given a card on which are drawn three lines, 60 mm. in
length. The first two are for practice; upon the third, O is to
indicate a division of the space into six intervals, corresponding
in their relations to the intervals in the standard acceleration
series. He is then asked to report his judgment as to the general
relations which these intervals bear to each other: a is greater
than b, b is greater than c, c is equal to d, etc.
XXII. Simple syncopation:
Six of the mercury contacts of the time-sense machine are set
at a distance of 60 degrees from each other, so that a continuous
series of clicks from the sounder are produced at an interval of
.66 sec. These successive clicks are recorded upon the smoked
drum. Any clicks made by O, when he taps upon his key, are
recorded in a line parallel to the first. In this way, when the
lines are viewed horizontally, O's record is directly under that of
the standard clicks.
O is instructed to begin tapping, after the signal "now," just
halfway between the taps of the sounder, and continue this form
of syncopation until he hears (after fifteen seconds) the signal for
stopping. His task is, of course, to tap just .33 sec. after each tap
of the sounder; so his individual taps are measured from a point
on his record-line directly under a tap-record on the standard
line, and rated according to how they correspond to the distance
120 APPENDIX II
on the drum representing .33 sec. In this way, his first ten taps
are taken; their distances from the measuring points just de-
scribed, averaged; and thus their Gross Constant Error and Aver-
age Variable Error, determined. One preliminary test is given.
XXIII. Reaction to five's and seven's:
E watches soundless pendulum marking seconds, and taps
groups of five's on the phosphor-bronze drum at the rate of five
taps to two swings of the pendulum. The first tap of each group
is accented. Similar procedure for seven's.
Instruction: "Listen to the following series of sounds, and raise
your finger when you have clearly established the nature of what-
ever motor reaction, if any, they produce. Note also, as carefully
as you can after this, whatever phenomena of muscle tension and
breath affection, if any, occur. This done, begin to inhibit as far
as you are able the motor reaction instituted, so that later you
may be able to grade it as 3, 2, or 1, with respect to difficulty hi
inhibiting. You will have about fifteen seconds for this after
raising your finger."
XXIV. Complex syncopation (involving regulated practice) :
The task is for O to tap groups of five's on his key, while the
tune-sense machine is clicking seven's. The contacts are set as
for simple syncopation so that the clicks will be .66 sec. apart.
The experiment is divided into six stages:
1. At every seventh click of the sounder E says "One!". At
E's third "One!". O is to begin quite roughly, tapping, as
well as he can, five equal taps between E's "One's. " He is thus
tapping five against seven. This continues for ten seconds.
2. E now taps upon the phosphor-bronze drum an approxima-
tion of the way the two sets of clicks should sound when played
together. In order to do this, E has practised the task for
several months, until he is able to do it in more or less of an
automatic fashion. As he taps this "rhythmic tune" upon
the drum, he counts aloud as follows, giving numbers for the
seven's and saying "and" for the five's (on "one," of course,
the two coincide):
"One, two-and, three, and-four, five-and, six, and-seven."
The "and" between two and three is closer to two than it is
to three and so, the "and" between six and seven is closer to
seven; but the "and's" just before four and just after five are
exactly twice as close to their respective numbers as the first
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 121
O now taps his five's as before, but counts aloud as he taps,
uttering numbers for the taps of the machine and saying "and"
for his own taps. E still marks off every seventh click of the
machine by saying "One!", O having begun upon his third
3. E now explains a black and white chart hanging on the wall,
which is meant to indicate the effect (in terms of space, mathe-
matically divided), of superimposing five intervals upon seven.
E counts as before, following with a pointer the spaces on the
chart. He odds, however, a simple humming tune to the count-
ing, so that two bars of the five-seven syncopation form an easily
remembered melody. O is asked to do likewise, accompanying
E, until the two-bar melody has been hummed three times. O
is also asked to tap with his left hand for the seven's, and with
his right on a dead key for the five's.
4. O is now instructed to be ready for another trial, the results
of which are to be recorded on the drum. E hums, counts,
and beats with a pointer the rhythmic melody once more, and
then starts the serial clicks of the time-sense machine. O is
expected to begin as soon as he is comfortably ready, and to
tap five's to the machine's seven's, counting and humming the
rhythmic tune. E no longer marks off the groups. This is
accomplished by O's first tap, which starts the syncopating
O is to continue his syncopation until stopped by signal
from E at the end of fifteen seconds. In the meantime, O is
expected to tap off the clicks of the machine with his left finger
on the table, while he makes recorded taps of five's, with his
right. He is no longer expected to think of himself as tapping
five's against seven's, but as tapping the tune he has heard,
with the accents (numbers) assigned to his left hand and the
unaccented "and's" to his right. Both, of course, come down
together on "One."
5. O is now instructed to watch E, and, in at least an incipient
form, imitate everything he does. E then, as he hums the
rhythmic melody, taps the seven's with his left index-finger
and the five's with his right; and follows this with a perform-
ance in which all the fingers of both hands are used. There-
upon he performs a sort of rhythmic step, divided into two
phrases of seven, at the same time that he executes with his
arms two phrases of five. While he is doing this, O is asked to
place his hands upon his knees, and beat five's while he taps
122 APPENDIX II
seven's with his feet. No record is kept of these tentative
O then prepares for another trial at tapping on his key.
After the machine is in motion, he is to begin as before, at a
comfortable moment, humming the rhythmic tune while he
taps. This lasts for fifteen seconds.
6. O makes his last record, but this time with his eyes closed, and
without humming aloud. This record is the one according to
which he is graded. The correct length of interval (.936 sec.)
for a fifth of the time covered by seven clicks of the machine,
is taken as the standard which he is to approach. Accordingly,
the average of his first five intervals is estimated, and the GCE
and AVE determined. Certain slight variations occurred in
the procedure as applied to O's No. 3, 4, 10, and 12, but not
enough to vitiate the results.
XXV. Individual "swing":
O is expected to tap the marked centroids in the following
arrangement of words:
"Prose is prose prose is prose prose is prose while poetry
* * * * * *
is opposed to prose, prose-poetry is opposed to any poetry that
may be composed in any other way than that of prose."
Instruction: "Read the following arrangement of words in
what you consider a perfectly natural manner ' letting yourself
go' as much as possible. Tap only when you utter the o-sounds
marked with an asterisk above them." O is expected to practise
the task until he feels able to carry out the above with ease. The
record of his tapping is made upon the smoked drum.
XXVI. Musical " swing " :
O is asked to tap upon the kymograph key, while he hums to
himself the first few bars of "My Country 'tis of thee." The taps
are to represent, as far as possible, what considers his natural
rendering of the time-relations of the melody.
XXVH. Phonograph test:
After most of the results of the previous tests had been deter-
mined, O No. 1, whose rank in the tests was fairly high, was chosen
to make drum-beat records on the phonograph for the rest of the
observers to pass judgment upon. Records were made, accordingly,
from five different sources and presented to the other observers
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 123
in the form of a series, which they heard reproduced from the
phonograph. Two short passages of prose, one of regular music,
one of haphazard word arrangement, and one of haphazard musical
notes, were tapped by O No. 1 upon the phosphor-bronze drum,
as a source for the five records.
First in the series was the following passage from Walter Pater
(op. cit. p. Ill):
"It is the landscape, not of dreams or of fancy, but of places
far withdrawn, and hours selected from a thousand with a miracle
Second in the series was the passage of about six bars from
Chopin, Nocturne, Op. 37, No. 1.
Third: part of a sentence from Henry James, Preface to The
Golden Bowl, p. xxiv:
"For I have nowhere found vindicated the queer thesis that the
right values of interesting prose depend all on withheld tests."
Fourth: a haphazard arrangement of seventeen words chosen
in the following manner: Every other word in the first paragraph
of Seashore's description of the Tonoscope (University of Iowa
Studies in Psychology, No. VI) was written upon a separate slip
of paper, and the slips thoroughly shuffled. Twenty slips were
drawn by a person with closed eyes, and the words arranged in the
order of drawing. Three words at the end were then dropped,
in order to bring the time of reading of the series into closer approxi-
mation of equality with the time required to read the regular
prose sentences. The result was as follows:
"Instruments description the from crude now psychology un-
touched essential described a the in fact pleasure instruments
Fifth: a haphazard arrangement of musical notes, chosen by a
blindfolded person from 144 possibilities (permutations and com-
binations of long and short notes and long and short rests).
None of the observers were given any sort of information as
to what sources had been employed in obtaining the five records.
The instructions were as follows:
"Listen, without screwing up your attention too much, to the
following five series of drum-beats. Keep yourself in a partly
relaxed condition, in order to respond as freely as possible to any
effect they may have upon you. Be prepared to grade the five
124 APPENDIX II
series in relative order of merit as pleasing. You will then grade
them again as 'elusive' or puzzling."
After O hears the reproduction of the series upon the phono-
graph, the grades are recorded upon a schedule blank provided.
The five sets of taps, of course, simply represent O No. 1's inter-
pretation of the tasks assigned. E had given O No. 1 five
schedules to follow in the order prescribed, with the instruction to
tap, in a perfectly natural manner, the duration and intensity of
the notes and syllables as felt. According to these instructions,
for instance, the word "hours" was tapped as two syllables.
After this first hearing of the series and after the recording of
the grades O is asked: "Did it occur to you while listening to any
one of the series to beat time to it (by nodding, tapping, etc.),
in other words, to respond to it with any form of regular motor
accompaniment? Did the idea of syncopation occur to you?"
Before the second hearing of the series, O is instructed as follows:
"See if you can beat strict time, with a degree of satisfaction, to
any of the series. Be prepared to grade the five with units (3, 2,
or 1) for ease and satisfaction in this respect." At the end of the
phonograph reproduction, O is asked if he felt any effects of
Before the third hearing of the drum-beats, the instructions
are: "Keep the possibilities of syncopation in mind, and see also
if there are any of the five arrangements of sounds to which you
can, with a degree of satisfaction, beat a less strict time-unit
that is, one which accelerates or retards within the limits of what
strikes you as merely an appropriate adjustment, with just such
liberty as you could enjoy in regular music."
Schedules are provided on which O grades the five series, aa
Before the fourth hearing, O is told that regular prose is the
source of two of the series of drum-beats; regular music, hap-
hazard words, and haphazard music, the sources of the other
three. He is asked to mark upon a schedule provided, his judg-
ment as to which is which. He is also to grade each judgment
with "a," "b," or "c" degree of certainty. After that he is once
more to grade the five in relative order: first, as pleasing; and
second, as elusive.
1. Do you clearly understand the possibilities of syncopation in
connection with motor response to a series of drum-beats?
(E explains the subject, in case of a negative response.)
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 125
2. Do you enjoy its introduction, or do you usually resent it?
3. Do you understand the possibilities of acceleration and re-
tarding? Describe their effect upon you in the "swing"
4. Would a certain amount of acceleration or retarding in a
series of drum-beats add any possible interest to the series?
Could you think of its adding great interest?
5. Do you take pleasure at all in the idea of making equivalences
or substitutions rather than simple balancings of two equal
masses against each other? Does the idea of weighing a pound
of lead, small in size, against a pound of feathers, large in size,
interest you aesthetically?
6. What sort of motor response would you most enjoy making to
a series of sounds that impressed you as in any way rhythmical?
Would the response be segregated or serial?
7. If a series possessed merely an elusive charm, hard to analyze,
just how can you imagine yourself as responding?
8. Can you imagine yourself as taking pleasure at all in a series
of "unitary" pulses (not grouped into two's and three's, etc.)?
9. If each of these pulse intervals were filled in with varying
numbers of smaller intervals, without blurring the larger,
dominant pulses, would it add interest or detract?
XXIX. Schedule tests
A. Drum-beat series No. 5:
O listens again to phonograph reproduction of drum-beat
series No. 5 (haphazard music), and states its effect upon him
(pleasant, unpleasant, or indifferent). O has not yet been
told in any way that it is haphazard music.
E now gives O a schedule, recording one of E's own forms of
organization of this objectively irregular series:
Schedule I: 2 000' "000000 O'O' 00 '0 'O'O O'OO '0"
*000 *000 *000 *000 *000 *000 *000 *000
This is a way of counting four-time (rapidly) to the series.
The lower line represents the counts, and the upper line the
way in which the beats in the record can be regarded as falling
into the system. Each beat is marked by an accent. Three
chief accents are also indicated.
E explains the schedule, then taps it on the phosphor-bronze
drum, humming a simple tune as he taps. This is done three
1 The schedule actually employed was very slightly different, but
was not quite so clear as the above. The difference is unessential.
times. O listens to the phonograph reproduction, and attempts
to fit the schedule to the beats, with his own motor response
as a test of his success. He next reports to what extent his
interest in the record has been affected by using the schedule.
He also reports upon the effect of E's having hummed the tune.
Schedule II: 00' "0 000 "' '"
*00 *00 *00 *00 *00 *00
(fast) (slower) (faster)
E explains, beats on drum, and hums tune as before, three
times. Then O listens to the record again, and reports on the
effect of this schedule upon his interest. The two schedules
are then graded, in relative order of merit, in this respect.
Drum-beat series No. 1 :
O listens to record No. 1 (Walter Pater), without being told
its origin, states his interest, and then receives schedules,
which he employs, as with record No. 5.
LJ a \\' t
* o o # o o
yar g c
o o * o o * o
A _ A~~
_ -V 1 _ f 1
LJ af i/ tf a a^
* o o
hb'&kU" 5 J
FIGURE 1. Rhythmic Schedules used in connection with the sentence
from Walter Pater
O grades the schedules, and reports as before.
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 127
1. Did you at any point enjoy, or can you think of enjoying,
record No. 1's rhythm without any motor response at all?
2. Can you think of any comfortable or satisfying motor response
except beating time in some way?
3. Can you conceive of any possible way of beating time to the
rhythm of a prose passage (without distorting the natural
grouping of the words) except on the basis of an elastic under-
unit, accelerating and retarding according to the mood?
4. When small groups of beats recur, either as exact echoes and
suggestions of echoes, or obvious inversions and suggestions of
inversions, irrespective of a time-unit, can you respond to
them by a motor reaction with so high a degree of pleasure as
when such groups recur in some recognizable connection with
XXXI. Unitary music : (first test)
Instruction: "Listen to the following series of beats with closed
eyes, and state how it affects you."
E beats on drum the rhythm of bars six, seven, and eight (plus)
of The Temple of Memphis, by Cyril Scott, after which O is
asked whether or not he felt the recurrence of any time-interval
throughout the series. E then instructs O to be ready to answer
the following questions, after a second hearing:
1. (same question about the time-unit)
2. Did you respond with a motor reaction?
3. Did you notice that any group of the time-interval was repeated
in a series?
4. Did you notice the subdivision of a dominating time-unit into
groupings of two, three, four, etc?
5. State again how the drum-beats affect you.
XXXII. Unitary pulses :
Instruction: "Take your favorite type of motor reaction and
continue it, at a rate which seems pleasant to you, for about ten
Question: "Did you think of the series of motions you made as
in any way divided into groups?"
A negative answer means the presence of unitary pulses.
XXXIII. Unitary music : (second test)
E beats last five bars (tempo alone) of page 1 of The Temple
of Memphis, and then asks the following questions:
1. What was the effect upon you?
128 APPENDIX II
2. Did the arrangement of beats in groups of varying size destroy
your feeling that there was a unit to the series?
3. Did the variety in size of these groups add or detract interest
from the series?
E instructs O to keep the last two questions in mind, and
listen to the beats again. After a second report from O, E
shows the text of the music to him and explains what is meant
by the "unitary" basis.
XXXIV. Factors in organizing drum-beat series :
Instruction: "After hearing record No. 1 again, you will be
asked: To what extent do the following suppositions assist or not
assist in your case, to explain, or render less puzzling, elusive im-
pressions of rhythm in prose beats such as you have just heard:
1. An elastic under-unit of time (accelerating and retarding), re-
curring in a series of similar groups, such as two's, three's,
four's, five's, etc.?
2. The possibility of changing back and forth from a series of
units grouped in two's, to a series grouped in three's, etc., as
occurs in regular music? (See Schedule II, section XXIX, B)
3. The possibilities of syncopation, as a means of correlating with
a time-unit what would otherwise be merely interfering ele-
4. The possibility of substituting for any unit-interval an equiva-
lent group of smaller intervals, varying freely and unexpectedly
in number from pulse to pulse, as occurred in the first experi-
ment with the music of Cyril Scott? (Spontaneous substitu-
5. The consideration of the time-unit as forming in its recurrence,
not necessarily a series of two's or of three's or of five's, but of
unitary pulses (more or less elastic), capable of grouping them-
selves into clusters of varying size, depending upon the repe-
tition of the unit itself, rather than upon the repetition of its
groupings, for the fundamental organizing influence (as occurred
in the second experiment with Cyril Scott)?
6. The imposition of a fictitious humming tune upon the series?
O then hears drum-beat record No. 1 (Walter Pater), after
which he grades the six hypothetical factors with units (3, 2, 1),
according to the degree in which each of them figures in what-
ever subjective organization of the series of drum-beats he
The table of contents prefixed to Appendix II applies also to this
appendix, since the enumeration of results and brief comments upon
them are given in sections corresponding to the steps in the experi-
mental procedure. A large amount of material is included in the tab-
ulations of data, which is not discussed in the main text. Just as the
procedure was given almost in full, in order that whatever therein
needs to be criticized might be frankly disclosed, so here an opportu-
nity is afforded for careful sifting on the part of sufficiently interested
readers. Such a mass of varied material can hardly fail to contain
errors, of method or of computation or of statement.
Section I contains a rough description of the group of observers
who took part in the tests. Section vii applies to the sense of "swing";
ix shows at the end the marked ability of Observer No. 7 to keep accu-
rate time, in spite of various disturbances; xxii and xxiv, the excel-
lence of No's. 1, 4, 7, 8, 11, and 12, in tests concerned with simple and
complex syncopation. Toward the end of xxvii occurs the tabulation of
judgments passed upon the five phonograph records, among which
are listed the five judgments recorded by No. 7, who subjectively
organized each of the records into an impression of regular music,
xxxi, xxxii, and xxxiii furnish data with regard to unitary pulses, xxxiv
shows the large amount of difference among the observers with regard
to the subjective organization of haphazard series and the factors em-
ployed. It is of the greatest significance that No. 7 and No. 12, who
have evinced aggressively rhythmic tendencies, both grade syncopa-
tion high. No. 12 makes it the chief factor.
130 APPENDIX III
I. Preliminary questionnaire :
Comparative estimates, obtained by grading answers with
rough units. 3 = high, 2 = moderate, 1 - low.
Observer No. 1 2 3 456 78 9 10 11 12
Rough estimate of musi-
cal training: 30 2 201 31 Oil 3
musical interest: 32 3 312 32 312 3
interest in rhythm: 31 3 200 32 111 3
int. in literary style: 32 2 321 30 210 2
int. in artistic technique: 22 3 310 30 110 1
vividness of auditory im-
agery: 31 2 211 32 201 3
amount of motor re-
sponse: 21 2 211 21 111 2
summary of rough units: 19 9 17 17 6 6 20 8 10 6 6 17
(presumably favorable to
the perception or enjoy-
ment of rhythm)
Observers arranged in relative order: (in % of 21 possible units)
O No. 7:
Observer No. 1 is an amateur musician; O No. 4 is an English
professor; O's No. 3, 5, 10, 11 are research students in the Depart-
ment of Psychology at Columbia; O's No. 2 and 6 are instruct-
ors, and O's No. 8 and 12, professors in this department; O No. 7
is a professional musician; O No. 9 is a Japanese graduate student
in Oriental Philology. The above list of preliminary grades has
only suggestive value. O No. 11, for instance, in spite of his low
position, ranks high in a number of the subsequent tests.
II. Pulse rate: O No. 1 2 3 4 5 67 8 9 10 11 12
(length of single pulse .80 .76 1.00 .86 .725 .735 .59 .83 1.16 .64 .82 .89
HI. Breath rate: 6.00 5.00 3.75 3.75 4.29 4.62 3.75 10.0 3.75 5.72 5.00 3.33
(length of single breath
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 131
IV. Image-type test (rough) :
V - visual, K - kinaesthetic (motor), Aud - auditory, Org -
O No. 1: V 62%, Aud 20%, K 15%, (others scattered)
2: V 60%, Aud 20%, K 15%,
3: Aud-verbal 55%, (others vague and scattered)
4: V 55%, Aud 15%, K 10%, Aud-verbal suggestions
6 : V 80 %. (rough result of previous tests)
6: V60%, " " " " "
7: K 40%, V 20%, Aud-verbal 20%, Org 20%
8 : K predominates, then Aud (rough result of previous
9: V 80%, Aud 20%
10: V 70%, K-verbal 20%, K 10%, (distinctly deficient
in auditory imagery)
11: V 60%, Aud 20%, K 10%, (others scattered)
12: Aud predominates, then K, then V, (result of pre-
V. Unit-accuracy simple form : (uas)
O's first ten serial reproductions of the standard interval in
the second regular test are measured, their average obtained, and
their average deviation from this average computed by means of
the well-known formula discussed by M tiller: 1
Average Variable Error
This particular formula arbitrarily increases the obtained value
for AVE, and is therefore advisable when the number of meas-
urements is limited. The Gross Constant Error is obtained by
subtracting the average of O's reproductions from the standard
interval. The AVE and the GCE thus obtained are turned into
per cents of the standard interval, and the O's are arranged by
means of these values into two series of relative order.
S (standard interval) = .7 sec.
O's arranged in relative order: (where the values are the same
for several O's, the latter are arranged, for convenience, in their
GCE uas (unit-accuracy simple) Ave uas
O No. 1: -.002(%ofS) O No. 1: .02(%ofS)
7: -.01 9: .02
1 Miiller, Methodik, p. 192.
132 APPENDIX III
6: +.01+ 7: .03 9: -.14+ 6: .05
6: -.02 8: .03 4: -.15 4: .06
11: +.02 11: .04 3: -.17 12: .07
8: -.06 6: .045 10: +.21 10: .09
12: +.14 3: .05 2: -.30 2: .12
Under conditions of accuracy in the present experiment a dif-
ference between two observers of .005 is not enough to produce a
real distinction. Observers No. 1 and 9 have the smallest average
variable error, which means that they are steadiest in this partic-
ular test in adhering to whatever reproduction they tend to
make of the standard interval. O's No. 1 and 7 and 5 have the
smallest gross constant error, which means that their average
reproduction is most nearly equal in size to the standard interval.
O's Nos. 1 and 7 have slightly underestimated it, as is indicated
by the negative signs; O No. 5 has overestimated it. O's No. 10
and 2 are both the most unsteady of the group (in this particular
test) and the most inexact.
VI. Subjective rhythm:
1. Involuntary (non-suggested, and suggested):
System of grading:
Grade 1: Observer mentions perceptions of rhythmic
grouping in the non-suggestion series and in
both the suggestion series.
Grade 2: O mentions perception of grouping in the non-
suggestion series and in one of the suggestion
Grade 3: Groups mentioned only in the two suggestion
Grade 4: Groups mentioned on only one of the suggestion
Grade 5: No groups mentioned in any of the series.
Observers arranged according to grades:
Grade 1: O's No. 1 3 4 8 11 12
Grade 2: 667
Grade 3: 2
Grade 4: 10
Grade 5: 9
Observer No. 9 seemed to have no tendency to subjective
involuntary rhythm in this test.
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 133
System of grading:
Grade 1 : Observer signals the establishment of subjective
groups of 3 in the first test and of 5 in the
second, both within ten seconds.
Grade 2: O announces 3's and 5's within thirty seconds.
Grade 3: O fails in one of the tests, but announces the
desired grouping in the other within ten
Grade 4: O fails in one, but announces grouping in the
other within thirty seconds.
Grade 5: O fails in both.
Observers arranged according to grades:
O's No. 2
Some of the observers announced that their failure to es-
tablish groups of 3 or 5 was due to the overpowering strength
of subjective 2's or 4's. This was especially true with O's
No. 4 and 6. O No. 9 announced that he could not force odd
rhythms of any sort. -^
VII. Acceleration experiment (test for "swing"):
Standard series: .7 .6 .6 .5 .6 .7 sec. (Sum -
A. Equations of trend:
1. (for first three diminishing i.e., accelerating intervals)
y = (y = length of interval, x = position in the series)
2. (for last three increasing i.e., retarding intervals)
x + 1
B. System of grading:
1. Gross Constant Error: the difference in seconds between O's
reproduction of the whole series and the sum of the six standard
intervals (3.6 sec.). The result is finally expressed in % of 3.6.
2. General Trend: Approximation of O's reproduction to stand-
ard series, a, b, c, d, e, f, represent the six intervals of the
134 APPENDIX III
standard series in succession; a', b', c', d', e', f ', represent O's
reproductions. Errors in approximation less than .06 sec.
(1 mm. on the smoked-drum record) are not regarded as falsi-
fications. This, of course, simply puts an arbitrary interpre-
tation upon the meaning of general trend. Two successive
intervals, equalling each other in the standard series, are
considered as equal in O's reproduction, if within .06 sec. of
each other. Where the relation between two standard inter-
vals is a difference of .1 sec., a difference of .1 sec., plus or minus
.06 sec., between O's reproductions of these two intervals, is
not regarded as a falsification in general trend. In other
words, a' b' must be at least 04. and not more than .16,
in order not to be regarded as a falsification. Where b is less
than a, b' must be less than a', within these limits.
The six standard intervals involve thus seven conditions of
trend: a - b = .1, b - c = .1, c = d, e - d = .1, f - e = .1,
a = f , and b = e. Observers are graded according to the approxi-
mate conformity of their reproductions to these seven condi-
tions. This results in seven intervals of merit value between
and 7/7 (100%), or eight grades including the levels of
and 100, into which observers fall for the present purposes of
classification. The grades have no final value corresponding
to their appearance of accuracy.
Grade 1, in which no falsifications occur, is thus marked as
7/7, or 100%; Grade 2, in which one falsification occurs, is
marked as 6/7, or 86%; Grade 3, as 5/7; Grade 4, as 4/7;
Grade 5, as 3/7; Grade 6, as 2/7; Grade 7, as 1/7; and, finally,
Grade 8, in which all the seven conditions are falsified com-
pletely, or else not observed within the limits of .06 sec., as
described above, is marked as 0. This zero is, of course, not
3. Average of Deviations f ] from the seven "Relativ-
ity Conditions," each deviation being expressed in % of the
respective relativity condition from which it deviates:
The "Relativity Conditions" are the relations, obtained by
division, between the six standard intervals. Only seven of
these relations are chosen as significant. They are as follows:
a/b = f/e = 1.17
b/c = e/d - 1.20
c/d - a/f - b/e - 1.00
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 135
Let a'/b' - L (the proportion existing between the first and
second interval of the observer's reproduction)
b'/c' - M f'/'e - P
c'/d' - N a'/P - Q
e'/d' - O b'/e' - R
Then 1.17 L
- D'% (deviation of a'/b' from a/b in %
1.00 - N
Sum D %'s - SD % - D' % +D" % +D" ' %, etc.
AVEsd - AVE for^=^ / ' '- >
7 6.5(-Vn(n-l)) 6.5
The grading value for approximation to the seven Relativity
Conditions is marked as GVrc, and calculated as follows:
GVrc - 2AVEsd + - + GCE (see sub-section 1, above)
This is an arbitrary equation, devised for the purpose of
convenience in ranking the observers. AVEsd is doubled in
order to give special weight to steady achievement. GVrc is
thus a compound, weighted expression of error. An observer
ranks high according to the smallness of this value.
4. General Trend in judgment and line-division: (GTld)
Same system of grading as for General Trend in section 2.
Grade 1 : no falsifications, 7/7 or 100 %
Grade 2: one falsification, 6/7 or 86%
Grade 3: two falsifications, 5/7 or 72%
Each observer, thus, according to his grade, receives his
GT% for LD (general trend % for line-division) or GTld %.
5. General Trend in photographed reproduction: (GTph)
Same system as for 4. Each observer receives GTph %.
136 APPENDIX III
6. General Trend in kymograph reproduction (one week after the
second-day experiment): (GTk)
Same system as above. Each observer receives his GTk %.
O's No. 3, 10, and 12, whose photograph reproductions, through
accidents, proved inadmissible for measurement, can be rated
with the rest of the group only by substituting their grade in
kymograph reproduction for their missing grade in photograph
reproduction. This, of course, involves inaccuracies, although
both the photograph and the kymograph records are based
upon O's memory of the original series after the lapse of a
7. Final Grading Value for accuracy hi reproduction of the Stand-
ard Series, corrected by General Trend per cent in judgment
and line-division (GVacc)
This equation is, of course, arbitrary and merely represents
one way of weighting the results of the various records, in
order to come to a rough conclusion as to each observer's
ability, under the special conditions of the test, to perceive
and remember the accelerating progression, or "swing," of the
six standard intervals.
4GT% +2GTld% +GTph% .
simply means the average grade,
expressed in %, assigned to an observer for his ability in ap-
proximating the general trend of the series, with least weight
upon GTph%, twice as much upon GTld%, and twice that
amount upon GT%. There are thus seven units of weight in
all. The deviation of this average % from 100% is given equal
weight with the grading value for conformity to the seven
relativity conditions (GVrc). Their sum, accordingly, divided
by 2, gives an average, which is taken as a convenient grading
value for individual difference in accuracy of perception and
memory of the acceleration series. Its nature is that of a
compound, weighted error.
1. Gross Constant Error:
Observers arranged in relative order according to GCE:
,- .00 sec
(% of S)
O No. 1: 3.60 -3.60 sec. -
O's No. 3, 8, 10 and 12 are virtually on the same level; so,
No. 7 and 6.
2. General Trend:
Observers graded according to conformity to the seven con-
ditions of General Trend (a-b - .1 sec., b c - .1, c d-o,
d - e = .1, e-f- .1, a - f = 0, b - e = 0) within the limits
of .06 sec., as already explained.
The seven conditions are represented by seven symbols
following the number of each observer. An asterisk (*) rep-
resents a condition approximately fulfilled, a zero (0) represents
O No. 1:
7/7 or 100%
138 APPENDIX HI
The first and third conditions (a - b -.1 sec, and c - d - 0)
were thus most frequently fulfilled. The fourth condition
(d - e - -.1) was most frequently falsified.
3. Average of Deviations from the seven "Relativity Conditions":
Observers arranged in relative order according to Average
of Deviations from the 7 Rel. Cond. (1.17, 1.20, 1.00,
1.20, 1.17, 1.00, 1.00):
O No. 1: .06
12: .07 7
4: .14 +
Observers No. 1, 11, and 12, thus come closest, on an average,
to fulfilling the Relativity Conditions.
Arranged according to their average variable error in attain-
ing their individual average approximation to fulfilling the
conditions, the observers rank as follows:
O No. 1: .03-AVEsd
Observers No. 1 and 12 are thus found to be steadiest, in
this particular test, in attaining for each condition their aver-
age degree of approximation. In other words, they are likely
to make a number of small errors rather than one large error
counterbalanced by several very small ones.
Observers arranged in relative order according to the grad-
ing value for fulfillment of relativity conditions (GVrc)
GVrc - 2AVEsd
.13 - GVrc
O No. 10
Observers No. 1 and 12 thus attain the highest degree of
combined steadiness and average relative accuracy in perceiving
and reproducing the "swing" of the original series, together
with accuracy in estimating the gross value of its duration.
The average variable error in the formula employed above has
been arbitrarily weighted, in order to put a premium upon
steadiness in the final valuation.
General Trend in judgment and line-division: (GTld)
As in section 2 an asterisk (*) represents the fulfillment; a
zero (0), the falsification of a general trend condition (a-b =
.1 sec., etc.)
Observers graded according to conformity to the seven gen-
eral trend conditions:
Grade 2 = 6/7 = .86%
Grade 3 - 5/7 - .72%
Grade 3 etc. etc.
8838775 times fulfilled
140 APPENDIX III
It is interesting to note that the third condition, which in
section 2 was found to be one of the most frequently fulfilled,
is here the most frequently falsified. This condition is the one
of equality between c and d, the third and fourth intervals of
the series. On the other hand, the fourth condition (d - e -
- .1), which before was most frequently falsified, is here one of
the three most frequently fulfilled. Various causes produced a
certain amount of irregularity in the tune-interval that elapsed
between the hearing of the original series and the operation of
line-di vision; but with the exception of O No. 7, the latter
was performed after at least a week had elapsed subsequent
to the last hearing of the series. In this way the results, with
one exception, can be considered as affected by dimness of
memory in general, combined with effects of judgment per-
sisting, in some cases, over sensation images. Since the dec-
laration of judgments upon the intervals was required, in
addition to the line-division, there seems to be good reason for
considering the results obtained as largely matters of judgment,
backed up by whatever facility was given to the task by the
addition of a visual scheme. It would be an error, however, to
put any great reliance upon the line division test by itself. If
the observer merely remembers that the six intervals first
grew shorter and then longer, the task of dividing the line into
six intervals may by mere chance lead him into approximations
of great accuracy, or, on the other hand, into a different type
of error from what occurred in his immediate reproduction of
the series a week before.
5. General Trend in photographed reproduction: (GTph)
Observers graded as before:
O No. 11: * *
* * (
) Grade 3 - 5/7
Grade 4 - 4/7
Grade 4 = 4/7
Grade 4 - 4/7
Grade 5 - 3/7
8: * (
Grade 5 - 3/7
(12: * <
' * (
) Grade 5 - 3/7)
6: * (
) * (
) Grade 6 -2/7
(10: * * (
) Grade 6 -2/7)
) * (
) Grade 7 - 1/7
(3:0 * (
) Grade 7- 1/7)
4 7 (
) 6 1 3 <
; times fulfilled
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 141
The spoken reproductions made by O's No. 12, 10, and 3
were unsuccessfully recorded, so that kymograph reproductions
tapped on the same day, are substituted in the above table.
This irregularity must be taken into consideration whenever
the results are applied. The most striking fact about the table
is that the fifth condition (e f - .1) is misjudged in 11
cases out of 12. In both the previous tables it was 6 times right
and 6 times wrong.
Sound -photograph measurements: (six-interval series of
O No. 11: .76 .64 .49 .51 .56 .74 sec.
1: .77 .60 .52 .57 .63 .65
2: .68 .50 .50 .55 .52 .67
The above order is that of general trend, according to the
degree in which the reproductions correspond to the original
.7 .6 .5 .5 .6 .7 sec. S - 3.60
On account of fluctuations in the time-line employed, these
measurements must not be considered accurate beyond .02
sec. for an interval of .75 sec. For the purposes of the present
experiment, however, an even larger margin could be per-
This record was made simply as a precaution, in order to
have objective evidence of the observer's memory of the accel-
eration series, in case the photographic record happened to be
spoiled. This was the case with O's No. 3, 10, and 12, whose
kymograph memory records are subjoined:
O No. 12: .60 .62 .51 .50 .54 .84 sec.
3: .70 .30 .36 .54 .42 .60
10: .81 .70 .54 .70 1.00 .99
The photograph and kymograph memory reproductions were
made one week after the last hearing of the standard series.
To what extent any factors outside of judgment and memories
142 APPENDIX III
of judgment come into play is a problem left unanswered. In
any case, the function of memory, even when dim and uncertain
in its source, is of much importance in determining individual
difference in connection with so-called "swing." The ability
to strike a certain note at what impresses the hearers as "ex-
actly the psychological moment " undoubtedly requires a com-
plex of more or less accurate memories of the preceding notes
in the series. In order that a progression of intervals may
lead to a definite "point," apparently inevitable when once
attained, the performer can hardly be expected to qualify for
the task unless he be provided with fairly accurate memory-
images, involving the "relations" as well as the absolute values
of the series he is completing.
7. Final Grading Value for accuracy in reproduction, corrected
by general trend % in judgment and line-division, and general
trend % in photograph reproduction (memory of S after 7
flQQ- 4GT%+2GTld%+GT P h%N ) + GVrc
V 7 /
Observers arranged in relative order:
O No. 1: 12.1 - GVacc (compound, weighted error)
7: 45.9 Average = 49.62
It is surprising to find to what an extent the twelve observers,
according to the above figures, appear to represent a fairly
broad and comprehensive range of individual difference. The
two extremes represent about as even a deviation from the
average (49.6) as one could hope to find out of a much larger
group of persons. O No. 12, the second in the list, is almost
exactly as far from the first in the list as O No. 9, the next to
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 143
the last, is from the last. The same sort of relative position
exists for O No. 11, and O No. 6. The remaining six ob-
servers are found between the comparatively narrow range of
40.0 and 53.85. The arithmetical mean is 49.62, or virtually
50. In other words, the distribution of the observers happens
to suggest the normal probability curve, with a slight skew to
one side. The median comes between O No. 7 and O No. 4,
very close to the mean; and the mode or point of greatest
density is not far away, in the neighborhood of O No. 4. O
No. 4 may thus be regarded, roughly, as having a normal
degree of proficiency in accuracy of "swing" perception and
memory; those below him, as being to some extent deficient
in this respect; those above him, as being more or less unusual
in their proficiency. All systems of grading, however, are highly
dangerous and likely to be misleading if too much reliance is put
upon them. About the only fact that is really certain in the
above list of figures is the following: Under the conditions of
the present experiment, without regard to possible improve-
ment in performance, O's No. 1, 12, and 11 made a consistently
more accurate record of their perception and memory of a
certain series of accelerating and retarding intervals, than was
achieved by O's No. 6, 9, and 3. Many other deductions can
be made, some of them useful; but it must be remembered
that all of them will be tinged with a measure of uncertainty.
It must also be emphasized that in the above list of grading
values, the average (49.6) is the point of departure for ranking
the observers. GVacc, being a compound error, can exceed
VIII. Schedule syncopation :
Schedule: 0"0 OO'O O'OO '00' (fifteen intervals)
The intervals between O's taps (marked in the schedule by
accents) are measured as far as the fifth tap. The first interval
represents O's reproduction of the standard interval (5. sec), as
given by the metronome. The second interval represents four
separate subjective untapped intervals. It is consequently divided
by four, after measurement. The next two intervals both repre-
sent three subjective intervals; so each of them is divided by
three. This makes eleven consecutive intervals to which a value
has been assigned. The first ten of them are taken and averaged
in order to represent O's ability to carry out a syncopation sched-
ule, based upon an assigned unit, which he is to reproduce "as
exactly as possible."
144 APPENDIX HI
Observers arranged in relative order, first with regard to Gross
Constant Error (GCE), and then with regard to Average Variable
Error (AVE) in attaining their average reproduction:
GCEss (schedule sync.) AVEss
O No. 11: -.02 (% of S) O No. 6: .01 (% of S)
10: -.02+ 12: .02
8: -.09 8: .03
12: -.10 1: .04
7: -.13 4: .04 +
2: -.14 2: .05
9: -.14+ 11: .05 +
5: -.15 9: .06
1: -.15+ 3: .06 +
3: -.20 5: .09
6: -.25 10: .13
4: -.27 7: .50
The observers, without exception, underestimated the standard
interval in their reproductions. In other words, they went faster
than the metronome in their combined rate of tapped and un-
tapped intervals. O No. 10 stands high in average precision of
interval (GCE), but next to the last in steadiness. O No. 6 is
next to the last in average precision, but first in steadiness; i.e.,
his rate was entirely too fast, but he maintained it consistently.
O No. 7 was the most unsteady of all in maintaining his average
rate. O No. 8 was consistently high in both respects.
IX. Complex coordination, involving Unit Accuracy. (CC and CCua)
O accompanies metronome, beating at .5 sec. interval, accord-
ing to the following schedule:
RF rf If "ta," LF rf If "clo," (repeated for twenty seconds)
RF = right foot (taps foot key)
rf = right finger
If = left finger
"ta," uttered by voice, taps omitted, etc., etc.
A. Complex coordination: (CC%)
Method of grading:
Grade 1: no taps added or omitted, and no confusion of "ta"
with "clo," between the first and fifth right-finger
tap, as it recurs in the series. (7/7 or 100%)
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 145
Grade 2: one tap added or omitted. (6/7 or 86%)
Grade 3: two tap errors. (5/7)
Grade 4: "clo" and "ta" confused, or three tap errors. (4/7)
Grade 5: " " " " and one tap error, or four
tap errors. (3/7)
Grade 6: " " " " and two tap errors, or five
tap errors. (2/7)
Grade 7: " " " and three tap errors, or six
tap errors. (1/7)
Grade 8: " " " " and four or more errors. (0)
Observers arranged according to grades:
Grade 1: O's No. 4 10 11
Grade 2: 1 3 6 8 9 12
Grade 3: 7
Graded: 2 5
Grades 4, 6, 7, and 8 are not represented. The above grades
can in no way be taken as final. In nearly every case, the observ-
ers made a strenuous effort to attain the result expected. This
was particularly true with regard to O's No. 3, 4, and 7. On the
other hand, O's No. 1, 10, and 11 achieved their results with com-
parative ease. There is no doubt that after a week of practise,
many, of the observers would have changed their relative position.
In the present set of experiments a longer test was out of the
question. As it stands, the grading is merely suggestive. It is
fairly certain that O's No. 1, 10, and 11, who responded to the
test with a visible degree of ease, possess at least a moderately
high measure of facility, native or acquired, in executing this par-
ticular task. O's No. 2 and 5 show deficiency.
B. Complex coordination, as affecting Unit Accuracy: (CCua, or
System of measurement:
The intervals between the right and left finger taps are meas-
ured as far as the fifth such interval. These five measurements
are averaged; their Gross Constant Error determined in percent
of .5 sec. (the metronome interval they are supposed to equal);
and, finally, their Average Variable Error (written as AVEccua)
in attaining the average reproduction estimated according to the
formula used before.
Observers arranged in relative order, first with regard to GCE-
ccua and then with regard to AVEccua:
146 APPENDIX III
O No 12: -.08 (% of S) O No. 11: .02 (% of S)
4: -.10 3: .03
11: -.105 4: .03
3: -.11 7: .03
7: -.11 12: .06
1: -.12 1: .07
10: -.13 5: .07
6: -.21 10: .08
9: -.24 6: .12
6: -.27 2: .28
2: -.32 8: .32
8: -.35 9: .34
The Gross Constant Errors are all of them relatively large and
indicate a universal tendency to make the interval between the
right and left finger taps shorter than the interval of the metro-
nome which the observers are attempting to accompany. O's
No. 11, 4, 3, and 7 are consistently high in both columns. O No.
12 might also be included. O's No. 2, 6, 8, and 9 are consistently
low. These relations are of value in checking up the results of the
preceding gradings under A.
The two sets of results are combined into a grading value
for Complex Coordination (GVcc) according to the following
100% - CC%
GVcc im + GCEccua + AVEccua
In this formula three error values are added together and
given equal weight in determining the relative position of the
observers; but since the second and third both refer to results
obtained under B for Unit Accuracy, the grade obtained for co-
ordination under A (CC%) plays a subordinate r61e. This seems
to be justified by the less accurate nature of the results obtained
Observers arranged in relative order, according to the grading
values (GVcc) obtained by combining the results of A and B:
O No. 11: .13 GVcc (compound error) O No. 7: .43 GVce
4: .14 6: .53
10: .21 9: .73
12: .28 8: .82
3: .29 5: .85
1: .33 2: 1.17
Average - .49
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 147
It must be remembered that GVcc is the sum of three errors.
For some purposes - might be considered a more logical grad-
ing value. In this case the average amount of error would be
rated as - .16.
The results for Unit Accuracy in the tables under B can be
correlated with similar results obtained in section V (AVEuas
and GCEuas), according to the following formulas:
AVEuat (Unit-accuracy Totals)
GCEuat- CEuM 2 +GCEcCUa
GVua (grading value) = 2AVEuat +GCEuat
This formula for GV gives special weight to steadiness, rather
than to merely average precision (GCE).
Observers arranged in relative order, according to the grading
values obtained for Unit Accuracy, both under simple conditions
and under the disturbances caused by the necessities of Complex
O No. 7 : .12 GVua (compound error)
4: .20 +
6 : .23 Average = .30
10: .31 +
The final emergence to the top of O No. 7, the professional
musician, is due to his consistently high rank. O No. 10's pro-
ficiency under the difficulties of coordination was relatively much
greater than when relieved of these difficulties, under the conditions
of the earlier test. Variation in the state of attention may have
been a factor in this discrepancy. The more difficult task may
have spurred her on to greater relative precision.
O No. 2 remains consistently last, and O No. 11 consistently
toward the first.
148 APPENDIX III
X. Walking-rate, etc. :
Observers arranged according to time of walking-step, with
other "rates" in parallel columns:
Walk Nod Tap Sway Ta-Ta Pulse Breath
ONo. 1: .545 or .55 .81 1.03 1.03 .71 .80 6.00 sec.
The most striking apparent correlations are as follows:
O No. 1 : Tap and sway are identical, and approximately twice
walk. Pulse and nod approx. the same. Breath
is approx. six times tap.
2 : Tap is approximately half of walk.
3 : Nod is exactly twice walk, Ta-ta is twice tap.
4: Sway is approximately twice tap.
6: Ta-ta and pulse approximately equal. Breath, six
6: Ta-ta is one third of pulse.
7: Tap and ta-ta exactly alike.
8 : Tap and ta-ta exactly alike. Sway is twice pulse.
9 : Nod is twice ta-ta, and approximately equal to pulse.
10 : Ta-ta and walk the same. Nod approx. twice pulse.
11: Sway and nod exactly the same. Sway is approx.
three times ta-ta. Pulse and walk approximately
12: Nod is approx. twice walk, and three times tap.
Breath is twice nod.
These correlations are all more or less dubious, especially for
such short tests as the experiment demanded. The pulse-rates
are particularly unreliable. It is interesting, however, to form a
rough classification of the observers, according to the number of
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 149
Arrangement of O's in relative order:
O No. 1 : four correlations.
O's No. 11 and 12: three correlations.
O's No. 3, 6, 8, 9, and 10 : two correlations.
O's No. 2, 4, 6, and 7 : one correlation.
It should be kept in mind that with seven sets of figures some of
the correlations might be easily due to mere chance. Of the seven
rates determined the walking rate is perhaps the most reliable.
The observers were not in any way hurried, but were asked to
walk up and down the main hall of the building until they were sure
they had attained what they could call a normal, comfortable rate,
such as they would employ if they were walking for pleasure. They
were to maintain this rate, on entering the laboratory, until meas-
ured with a stop-watch by the experimenter. It should be men-
tioned that their various rates, as measured, do not carry out
Wundt's theory of correlation of walking rate with length of
leg. The length of the leg of O No. 9 is 37 inches, measured from his
hip-bone to the floor. That of O No. 6 is five inches longer, yet in-
stead of 9's rate being faster than 6's, it is considerable slower, as
can be seen from the tables. The legs of O's No. 1 and 3 are both
two inches longer than O No. 9's, yet their rate of walking is very
Wundt 2 gives .98 as the "usual" length of a double step, which
would make a single step equal .49 sec. The average of the steps
of the twelve observers in the present experiment amounts to .71
for a single step, or 1.42 for a double step. O No. 6, moreover,
has a single step almost equal to Wundt's "usual" double step.
Other investigators beside Wundt have announced average rates
more nearly in accord with the above results.
XI. Pitch memory :
Method of grading: The observer hears the original tone and
then a series of ten, three of which are repetitions of the stimulus
tone. These he is to identify, as explained in Appendix II.
Grade 1 : 3 exactly right.
Grade 2 : 2 right, 1 within 2 vibrations.
Grade 3: 2 " 1 "3 "
Grade 4: 1 " 2 "2 "
Grade 5:1 "1 "2 and 1 within 3 vibrations.
Grade 6: 1 " 2 "3 "
1 Wundt, op. tit., pp. 7 and 22.
150 APPENDIX III
Grade 7: " 3 "2
Grade 8: " 2 "2 " "1 "1 "
Grade 9:0"! "2 " "2 "3 "
Grade 10 : All combinations in which one of the errors is 5 vibrations
away from the original tone.
The element of chance is, of course, a factor in so short and
rough a test as the present one, which can hardly be considered as
more than suggestive. Those, however, who fall within grades
8, 9, and 10, can be considered without much danger of error as
more or less deficient in pitch memory.
Observers arranged according to grades:
Grade 10 : 5
It is clear that O No. 4 is excellent, and that O's No. 6, 10, and 5
are more or less deficient. There is also a probability that O No.
3 is excellent and O No. 9 not far behind him. The status of O's
No. 2, 7, 8, 11, 12, and 1 is rather doubtful, except as definitely
neither very high nor very low.
XII. Harmony memory :
Method of grading: O is to recognize a stimulus chord, repeated
three times in a series of ten. The test is fairly easy, and chiefly
calculated to bring out marked deficiency, rather than to establish
any detailed system of gradation among the observers.
Grade 1 : all three right.
Grade 2: two right.
Grade 3: one right.
Grade 4: none right.
O's arranged according to grade:
Grade 1: O's No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12
Grade 2: O No. 5
Grade 3: No. 10
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 151
On account of the easiness of the task it is evident that O's No.
6 and 10 are more or less deficient. O No. 10's complete lack of
types of auditory imagery in the image-type test is confirmed.
XIII. Vowel-quality memory :
Method of grading: O is to identify three stimulus groups of
vowel sounds as they recur.
Grade 1 : all three right.
Grade 2: two right.
Grade 3: one right.
Grade 4: none right.
O's arranged according to grade:
Grade 1: O's No. 1, 2, 6, 6, 8, 9, 12
Grade 2: O's No. 4, 7
Grade 3: O's No. 3, 11
Grade 4: O No. 10
O No. 10 continues to show consistently the effects of a lack of
auditory imagery. The large number of those who made no errors
shows that the test was comparatively easy. This leads one to
infer that, at any rate, those who fell into grade 3 and 4 show a
marked inability to remember groups of vowel sounds. It is surpris-
ing, however, to find among this number O No. 11, who was first
in the list in the test for complex coordination (GVcc) and high in
the list in the Acceleration Experiment (GVacc). In the later tests
for syncopation (GVs) he also heads the list. According to the
rough image-type test, it is plain that he possesses a certain amount
of auditory imagery. His test in pitch-memory shows no marked
deficiency in that respect. It is of great significance, however, that
in answer to the rough preliminary questionnaire he reported that
he had no interest at all in verse and no interest in the style of prose.
The extent to which vowel quality in the form of "tone-color"
enters into the style of both verse and prose is quite obvious. It
is hard to say, however, just how far "interest" may affect accuracy
of perception in vowel quality, or how far accuracy of perception
may affect interest.
XIV. Choice of " swing " reproductions:
The results under this heading have been already tabulated under
XV. Intensity memory :
Method of grading: O hears a stimulus intensity, roughly pro-
duced by the sound-pendulum, and then identifies its triple occur-
rence in a series of ten. Five degrees of intensity (rough) are
all three right.
2 right, 1 within 1 degree of intensity.
1, 1 within 2 degrees.
1, 1 within 2, or 1 within 3.
Grade 6: all other combinations.
O's arranged according to grade:
Grade 1: O's No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11
Grade 2: O's No. 7, 9
Grade 3: O No. 6
Grade 4: O No. 12
Grade 5: O No. 6
Grade 6: not represented
The inaccuracies connected with the use of a sound-pendulum
even when encased in a box of heavy felt (as was the case in the
present experiment) render the above grades nothing more than
very rough approximations. The necessity for a short test is, of
course, an even greater source of unreliability in the results, which
must be taken as merely suggestive. It is interesting to note that
O No. 10 and O No. 2, whose grades are low in some of the earlier
tests, are high in respect to Intensity Memory. O No. 10, accord-
ing to the image-type test, has a certain amount of kinaesthetic
imagery which, in spite of her lack of auditory imagery, is, no doubt,
of assistance in the present case.
XVI. Drum-beat rhythm of texts :
The statements dictated by each observer, with regard to the
thought, mood, and tone-color of the three sentences (A, B, and
C), were intended merely to lead up to the grading by units. The
following statements made by O's No. 3 and 10 are given as
O No. 3: Sentence A (de Quincey): "Thought seems strange
solemn mood ghostly an uneasy feeling when I
read it tone-color seems at first sombre and at the end
Sentence B (Newman): "Thought seems progressive
mood lively tone-color varied, the first thing that struck
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 153
me suggests blare of trumpet a lot of redness more
difference in the a's and e's than in the others."
Sentence C (Pater) : "As to thought, nothing occurs to say
don't see much mood in it variety of vowels and con-
sonants noticeable, but that's all."
O No. 10 : Sentence A (de Quincey) : "Author's mood dreamy
seems to speak metaphorically doesn't seem able to
transfer his mood at all he's quite sincere, I think, but
doesn't interest me at all rather annoys me, I think
does not make his thought effective by his use of metaphor-
ical language seems to bury it in words vowel-color
dark general tone-color smooth, with several rather
sharp interruptions which break the monotony."
Sentence B (Newman): "Much more pleasing seems to
dance along a certain amount of swinging speed to it
thought distinct author seems able to transmit his
thought very nicely isn't abrupt or awkward rather
polished thought involves visual images which the
author has not seen himself, but which he makes his own
light vowel-color light consonant-color seems to
Sentence (Pater): "Rather profound thought idea of
depth a little bit vague in transferring his thought a
little bit wordy vowels rather light the whole thing
seems to lose by that lightness it would have been better
if he had used darker vowels consonants give mixed
The replies given to the questions asked on drum-beat rhythm
("How would the series of drum-beats you have just performed
affect you, if you had heard someone else beating it, etc.") were
also meant merely to lead up to the final grading. The following
abbreviated version of O No. 8's replies is appended as an example:
Sentence A: Enjoys would like it to continue it falls
into parts, definitely related, but dissimilar a definite
crescendo from rapid to slow, powerful beats the beats
began to group themselves into definite periods (when
repeated) in the beginning this was not true "The
third time I tapped it, the whole thing became a unit, with
secondary complications" recurrence of periods which
were similar and other periods which if not similar had
definite accents and speeds O is interested because it
154 APPENDIX III
is not just a mechanical beating special interest in beat-
ing "central convulsions," because it seems to be bringing
things to a climax and is a variation of the rather undiffer-
entiated rapid beats that came before the whole thing
represents a definite increase toward a maximum of force
Sentence B: Much less interesting hi form, though dis-
tinctly smoother, livelier and lighter rather monotonous
no form as a whole it could have stopped in the
middle or gone on all day falls into unrelated parts
O gets more "mood" from tapping it out than from reading
it a musing mood O adds that sentence A, in the same
way, seemed to suggest something which is evident only
in the drum beating, not in the sense.
Sentence C: First impression is that C improves on ac-
quaintance the first tapping seemed a succession of
homogeneous strokes later a certain amount of form,
intermediate between A and B O had a f eeling that if
he had tapped a few more tunes, something more would
emerge was reminded of mood one gets from hearing a
Catholic priest recite a litany.
The result of the grading is as follows:
I II III IV S' S"
(fitness of form) (ease) (complexity) (pleas-
O No. 1: 3 3 1 2 9 10
2: 3 3 33 12 15
3: 3 2 21 8 10
4: 2 2 22 8 10
6: 3 1 32 9 12
6: 3 3 23 11 13
7: 3 1 33 10 13
8: 3 3 13 10 11
9: 3 1 13 8 9
10: 2 2 33 10 13
11: 3 2 12 8 9
12: 3 3 _2 3 Jl 13
24 114 138
(The sum of units assigned by each observer to a sentence is
listed under S'. The same sum with a weight of 2 attached to the
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 155
grade in Column III, is listed under S". This counting twice of the
grade given for complexity of problem, puts a premium, in the final
estimate (S"), upon the technical merit of the sentence from the
point of view of rhythm. Fitting rhythm for a difficult problem
deserves more credit than fitting rhythm for an easy one.)
28 80 108
The maximum number of units any sentence can receive is as
III S' S"
36 144 180
156 APPENDIX III
The number of units each sentence received, expressed in per-
cent of the maximum in each case, is as follows:
III S' S"
Sentence A: .67 .79 .77 (de Quincey)
B: .78 .72 .73 (Newman)
C: .78 .56 .60 (Pater)
The sentence from de Quincey thus receives a lower grade for
difficulty of the problem involved, but, in any case, a higher final
grade than B or C. Another group of observers, or this same group
on another occasion, might have graded the sentences nfuch differ-
ently. It in no way follows that, because the sentence from Walter
Pater was graded low, some other sentence of his might not have
been graded very high. This particular sentence was chosen be-
cause it happens to be the first in a paragraph much praised by
Saintsbury (op. tit. p. 424): "in the second paragraph a further,
a more obvious, but a much more dazzling and wonderful trans-
formation is effected."
O's No. 6 and 12 agreed exactly in their distribution of units for
A; O's No. 4 and 5, for B; O's No. 1, 4, and 8, for C. In the fol-
lowing list of agreements in the final gradings (S") it may be well
to remember the personnel of the group. O No. 4, professor of
English; O No. 12, professor of Psychology; O No. 7, professional
musician; O No. 1, amateur musician; O No. 9, Japanese student
of philology; O No. 3, graduate student of Psychology with strong
musical tastes; O No. 10, former instructor in 'Psychology, quite
clearly deficient in auditory imagery; O No. 8, professor of Psy-
chology, with extensive experience in tapping experiments; O No.
11, research student in Psychology, with no interest in verse or
literary style; O No. 5, research student in Psychology, with
little interest in music; O No. 6, instructor in Psychology, with
some interest in music, but practically no musical training; and
O No. 2, with an interest in music, but no training.
List of agreements in final grading of the sentences: (S")
A: O's No. 9, 11 A and B: 7, 10
1, 3, 4
6, 7, 10, 12
B: O's No. 11, 12 B and C: none
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 157
C: O's No. 1, 4, 8 A and C: 1, 4
6, 6, 11 10, 12
XVII. " Possibility " scanning :
The elements considered are intensity (I), pitch (P), duration
(D), additional "weight" (W). The units are 3, 2, 1, with the un-
derstanding that 1 means anything from low to very low. Abso-
lute zero is excluded except in the case of pauses, which when so
graded, are simply regarded as not existing.
As explained in Appendix II, section XVII, the observer states
the maximum and minimum number of units, for each of the four
elements, which he considers as both possible and probable in his
O's No. 1, 2, and 3 were the only ones who took part in this
experiment. Their results are tabulated below for the following
opening phrase of the sentence from de Quincey:
(from A) "For she can approach only those"
for (pause) she (p) can (p) approach (p) only (p) those
6-4 (0) 4-1 (0)
158 APPENDIX III
(This would include a range extending from a soft, low-voiced,
even chant to a loud, high-voiced, even chant. Pause possibilities
The number of permutations and combinations possible within
these limits (eight syllables; nine choices, from 4 to 12 inclusive)
amounts to 81 choices for the first two syllables, or 9 raised to the
eighth power for the group of eight syllables, which is 43,046,721
choices altogether. The total number of scannings possible from
the markings as given by O No. 1 amount to 720. If figures for
pauses are added, the number is greater. It must be remembered,
however, that a large number of "possible" combinations derived
from separate "probable" maxima and minima would be highly
improbable, inasmuch as they would be conceived by the observer
to be limited to certain sequences. In this way, 720 must be
regarded as an overestimation. The fact remains, however, that
the number of choices is tremendous, and enough to destroy utterly
the possibility of depending on any one scanning for the "rhythm"
of a passage.
For O's No. 2 and 3 the case is even stronger. The gross figure
for O No. 2's number of choices is 140,352; for O No. 3, 73,500.
The actual number of probable scannings is, of course, much less,
owing to the fact that many of the gradings would be valid only
for certain sequences. Psychological investigations of the facts of
rhythmic experience have proved beyond any doubt that pitch,
duration, and other elements besides intensity, are factors that
cannot be disregarded. Any treatise that confines itself to so-
called "scanning," on the basis of intensity alone, is sure to be
misleading and unscientific.
XVIII. Pulse consciousness :
O's No. 1, 7, 8, and 12 are easily conscious of pulse or heart-
O's No. 3 and 9 are dimly so. The results for the rest are
Data for O's No. 2 and 11 is lacking.
O No. 1 feels exhalation as four times longer than inhalation.
This makes a rhythm of five for the two. O No. 10 feels inhalation
as four and exhalation as three. This makes a rhythm of seven.
O No. 8 feels inhalation as one, exhalation as two (rhythm of three).
O No. 12: inhalation four, exhalation five (rhythm of nine). O
No. 7: inhalation is vaguely longer. O No. 6 is conscious of no
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 159
breath-segments. The data for some of the subjects is lacking.
It is of great interest, however, to notice that even in this rough
experiment, certain observers breathe in a rhythm which is very
far from the usual idea of bodily rhythms as simple or multiples of
two. Careful objective measurement would in every case, no doubt,
show that the relation of inhalation to exhalation is actually too
irregular to fall exactly into any simple proportion. It is of the
greatest importance, nevertheless, to discover that certain ob-
servers feel a relation between the two that comes very close to
committing them to a rhythm of 5, 7, or 9 in their breathing.
Much might develop from a more careful investigation of subjec-
tive valuation for breath-segments, when such a valuation exists
at all. Of course, an observer might value his exhalation at three
and his inhalation at four, and yet deny that he was conscious of
a rhythm of seven in successive breaths.
XX. Photograph of seven-day memory reproduction of acceleration
The results are tabulated under section VII, sub-section 5.
XXI. Judgment and line-division:
See section VII, sub-section 4.
XXII. Simple syncopation : (813)
O taps half-way between the clicks of a series given by the time-
sense machine in which the intervals are .66 sec. O's tap,
accordingly, should come .33 sec after the click from the machine.
His Gross Constant Error, plus or minus, and his Average Variable
Error are calculated upon this basis.
Arrangement of O's in relative order: (S = .33 sec)
O No. 7: -.03 (% of S) O No. 11: .03 (% of S)
11: -.04 1: .05
8: +.05 12: .05 +
1: +.07 3: .08
4: +.07 9: .10
6: -.07+ 7: .11
12: -.10 6: .24
6: -.10+ 8: .44
3: +.13 4: .65
10: +.13 2: .68
9: +.17 6: .73
2: -.20 10: .73
160 APPENDIX III
O No. 7, the professional musician, has the least GCE, and is
therefore on an average more precise than the rest of the group;
in steadiness (AVE), he is sixth in the list. O No. 11 is high, both
in average precision and steadiness. O's No. 10 and 2 are low in
O's No. 1, 3, 7, 8, 11, and 12 found the task of syncopation
pleasant; the rest failed to find it consistently pleasant; O's No.
4, 9, and 10 found it distinctly unpleasant; O No. 5 was indifferent.
XXIII. Reaction to 6's and 7's:
O No. 1 : reacted to both 5's and 7's, within ten seconds, by kin-
sesthetic feeling in the throat. Kinsesthesis for 5's was more diffi-
cult to inhibit than for 7's.
O No. 2 : no reaction for 5's; throat kinsesthesis for 7 rhythm,
within ten seconds, very difficult to inhibit.
O No. 3 : head and larynx movements for 5 rhythm, within ten
seconds, fairly easy to inhibit. No consciousness of breath affec-
tion. Responded to 7's by twitch on left side of face, within
twenty seconds, fairly easy to inhibit. Breath vaguely affected.
O No. 4 : unpleasant but uncontrollable motor reaction, impulse
to "pull away," established for 5's, within ten seconds. The un-
pleasantness was largely due to the timbre of the drum-beats, but
not entirely. The same motor reaction for 7's, not quite so un-
pleasant, was established within fifteen seconds, and proved very
difficult to inhibit.
O No. 6 : no reaction to 5's or 7's.
O No. 6: reacted to 5's, within twenty seconds, by dip of head
for the accents, and vague eye or eyelid or throat movements for
the smaller beats, difficult to inhibit. Reacted for 7's, within ten
seconds, with same type of movements as before, very difficult to
O No. 7: reacted to 5's at once by wave movement up his back;
established 7's, within ten seconds, by movement of "stiffening,"
easy to inhibit.
O No. 8: 5's within twenty seconds, nodding of head up and
down. An upward movement on the accent and forward move-
ments in segments that roughly coincided with the following
beats all difficult to inhibit. 7's within ten seconds, motor reac-
tion localized in eyeball as motion up and to the left on the accent
of each group, then more slowly downward but not in any definite
segments all difficult to inhibit. After well under way, O in-
haled on one accent, exhaled on the next.
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 161
O No. 9: 5's within fifteen seconds, head movements, easy to
inhibit; 7's within fifteen seconds, head movements, more diffi-
cult to inhibit.
O No. 10: no motor response to 5's or 7's.
O No. 11: 5's within twenty-five seconds, movement of left
hand for accents, nothing for subordinate beats, no breath affec-
tion. Reaction easy to inhibit. No reaction for 7's.
O No. 12: uncontrollable motor response in throat for 5's, fol-
lowed the rhythm with a kind of visual diagram; " too intro-
spective" for motor reaction to 7's, though it would have been
" natural to beat time."
O's No. 5 and 10 were the only ones who did not react to either
5's or 7's. O No. 4 reacted, but found it unpleasant. O No. 2
reacted only to 7's; O's No. 11 and 12, only to 5's.
XXIV. Complex syncopation (involving regulated practice) :
O attempts to tap 5's while the machine clicks 7's. E gives him
various helps, all connected with the substitution of a "rhythmic
tune " instead of any conscious " thinking out " of the task. The
correct length of interval (.936 sec), for a fifth of the gross time cov-
ered by seven clicks of the machine, is taken as the standard which
O is to approach. His GCE and AVE are determined with refer-
ence to the average of his first five intervals.
Arrangement of O's in relative order:
O No. 1:
O's No. 1, 7, 11, and 12 rank highest in average precision; O's
No. 4, 11, 7, and 1, in steadiness. O's No. 10 and 9 are consistently
low. All of the observers improved tremendously during the
stages of practice allowed them before the final record. Both O's
-.009 ( % of .936 sec)
162 APPENDIX III
No. 10 and 9, who found great difficulty in the task at first, suc-
ceeded, by means of the rhythmic tune, in achieving encouraging
XXV. Individual " swing":
The syllables marked by asterisks in the following arrangement
of words are tapped upon the kymograph. 3 The intervals from
asterisk to asterisk are measured for each observer:
Prose is prose prose is prose prose is prose while poetry
* * * * * *
is opposed to prose, prose-poetry is opposed to any poetry that
may be composed in any other way than that of prose.
The intervals vary in respect to "filling," although none, not
even the second and fourth or ninth and tenth, can be considered
as absolutely "empty." The subjective effect of "filling" upon
the apparent duration of intervals has been discussed in Chapter
The following measurements are in millimeters, as recorded on
the smoked drum of the kymograph. 1 mm = .06 sec.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1: 8 9 8 9 8 8.5 8 11.518.6 9 11.314 24 32
2:10 12 20 21 10 28 11.511 17 5 15 15 23 29
3:14 20 18 20 11 23 14 23 20.5 7 21 15 23 39
4: 14 15 15 15 14 22 14 10 17 11 18 16 25 38
5:13.512 14 18 15 22.518.511 16 14 21.518 21 35
6: 8.5 8.5 8 10 7 12.5 7.5 6 9 5 8 9 18 26.5
7:11 13.312 15 14 14.513 11 13 7 14 13 23 31
8: 14 16.5 14.5 16.5 12 20.5 15.5 10.5 18.5 6.5 15 14 23 31
9:11 16 10 16 8 22 14 12 22 7 16 19 25.536
10:15 15 15.316.515.525 15 15 16 9 14.525 26.532
11: 9.5 12.5 9.5 13.5 9.3 18.3 9.5 8.5 16 5.5 11 14 19 31
12 : 10 12 10.5 12 11 20 12 9 16 6.5 19 16.5 25 37
3 A series of experiments is now being planned, in which the observer
utters the arrangement of words without mechanical constraints of any
sort. The performance is recorded by sound-photography.
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 163
It would be easy to draw misleading inferences from the above
figures, especially since subjective impressions so largely deter-
mine rhythmic values. Two intervals can seem equal which differ
considerably in objective measurement, and the nature of "filling"
in language is infinitely more complex than a mere enumeration of
syllables. The subjective value of an interval in speech depends
upon the distractive value, reacting upon attention, not only of
"filling" but also of the two limits or boundaries of the interval.*
In the case of speech, the nature of the filling and the boundaries
involves elements of too subtle a quality ever to be detected in a
quantitative form. With such precautions duly in mind, however,
it is only proper that the objective relations should be examined
Intervals 1, 3, and 5, for instance, present on the surface similar
filling and similar boundaries. The same is true of intervals 2
and 4. Interval 9 is different because of the nature of the material
beyond the boundaries a situation which has certainly not been
fully investigated even in the most recent treatises on time-esti-
mation. Intervals 12, 13, and 14 represent in mere syllable filling
an obvious, not necessarily regular, progression in length. It is,
accordingly, of interest to see what objective treatment in the
matter of mere duration they receive from the various observers,
especially those who, in other tests, have shown marked tendencies
in any direction. O's No. 1, 6, 11, and 12 ranked high in both
syncopation and acceleration. O's No. 2, 9, and 10 were fairly
low in both. Their records, accordingly, would be particularly
Table I: Intervals 1, 3, 5, and 2, 4: (Instances of regularity)
1, 3, 5 equal in the case of O's No. 1 and 11 (approx.)
1 E II II II II II II n "A
2, 4 " " " " " 1, 3, 4, 8, 9, 12
1, 3, 5 form a regularly retarding progression in the
case of O's No. 10 and 12
O's No. 1 and 12 are the only ones in which both groups of in-
tervals display objective regularity. The regularity is one of
equality with O No. 1; it is partly one of equality and one of
progression with O No. 12. O's No. 4 and 11 rank next, perhaps,
to O's No. 1 and 12. O No. 7 shows an irregularly retarding pro-
gression; while O's No. 6 and 9 show an irregularly accelerating
* Benussi, op. cit., p. 481.
164 APPENDIX III
progression, in the relations of intervals 1, 3, 5. O No. 10 is about
on the same level with O No. 2, but her regular retarding pro-
gression is significant, especially since in all the tests where the
subject came up, she professed an interest in acceleration and
retardation, as opposed to her lack of interest in syncopation.
Table II: Intervals 12, 13, 14 (a, b, c):
Let L = c/b -b/a
M = (c -b) -(b -a)
5: 4 (approx.)
With regard to intervals 12, 13, 14, the greatest caution is neces-
sary before pronouncing judgments. All three intervals are "filled"
to a high degree that is, they contain no imperative punctua-
tional pauses, and can be considered as a succession of syllables
with pauses that are likely to be short, when introduced at all.
It is perfectly possible to cover the three intervals with one breath.
The "boundaries" of the intervals are fairly important syllables
with approximate equality of timbre ("po," "po," "po," and
"pro"). According to Benussi 6 the subjective time value of an
interval diminishes when the two limits are held together firmly as
a group, with striking similarity as their bond. Since this condi-
tion applies fairly well to all three of the intervals, it may be
inferred that their relations to each other will not be disturbed by
this particular factor, however much shorter their gross sum
might appear to consciousness on account of the ease with which
their boundaries can be held together.
6 Benussi, op. cit., p. 481.
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 165
Intervals filled with mental work, whether hard or easy, accord-
ing to Benussi,* appear shorter for this reason. In this matter
again the relations of the three intervals are not disturbed. Wundt 7
gives the following general tendencies in connection with filling: a
"short" filled interval (from .5 to 1.5 sec. in length) seems longer
than an equal empty one; a "long" filled interval (over 2 sec.)
seems usually shorter. An interval measuring no more than 25 mm
on the drum (1.5 sec.), would, accordingly, seem longer or slower;
one measuring over 34 mm (2.04 sec.) would be likely to seem shorter
or faster than its objective length would indicate. Between 25 mm
and 34 mm would lie an indifference point where subjective dis-
tortion, on this particular ground, would not be likely to occur.
This, of course, is a condition quite capable of distorting relations
between two intervals such as 1 second and 3 seconds, in which the
first might seem like 1.1, for instance, and the second like 2.9.
The objective simple proportion of 1:3 would thus be quite de-
stroyed. If, however, none of the three intervals are less than
14 mm or greater than 38 mm, which covers most of the measure-
ments for the group of observers, it might be taken for granted that
the amount of distortion due to this particular factor in the relations
of the intervals would be comparatively small. The really great
and forever unmeasurable factor is the individual distribution of
attention over the objective field, never alike for any two persons
and practically never alike for the same person on two different
occasions. The only satisfaction we can extract from the discovery
of objective regularity in the measurements of the intervals is due
to the fact that, however much we may resent long stretches of
mechanically regular rhythms, we all respond more or less to short
stretches of exact rhythm. We should probably find it very hard
to distinguish at all between longer stretches of regularly acceler-
ating or retarding beats and the slightly varied progressions which
would occur when our favorite pianist, for instance, performed the
acceleration or retarding in question. In considering this matter
we must be very careful to remember that we are thinking of rhythm
apart from tone and other factors.
Keeping all this in mind as a check upon the final value of any
rough inferences that may be made, the most interesting thing
to notice in the table for intervals 12, 13, and 14, is that O's No. 4
and 12, especially O No. 4, come very close to a perfectly regular
geometrical progression with the same moving ratio in both cases:
Benussi, op. til., p. 286. 7 Wundt, op. tit., Ill, p. 49.
166 APPENDIX III
a:b: :b:c: :2:3. Expressed as N(c/b:b/a) this becomes, as in
the table, 1:1.
O's No. 2, 3, and 9, who were low in the results for syncopation
and acceleration in previous tests, are in this case the furthest from
reaching simple ratios. O's No. 5, 6, and 10, however, who were
low in the tests referred to, achieve fairly simple ratios. O No. 5's
figures, according to one form of approximation, come close to a
ratio of 2: 3. O No. 7, the professional musician, has one of the
more simple ratios.
The matter of increase or decrease in the size of the increment
of retardation, which occurs in all cases, is rather puzzling. With
O's No. 2 and 7 it decreases in size; with O's No. 6 and 8 it re-
mains about the same; but with all the other eight observers it
increases, the increase varying from .12 sec. to .66 sec. (O No. 6).
The larger amounts, of course, indicate a tendency to a pronounced
retarding. It must not be forgotten, however, that although in-
terval 14 may be made much longer than its predecessors, it is
perfectly possible for the observer to have felt it, not at all as an
experience of retarded articulatory motion, but rather as an experi-
ence of great hurry on account of having to utter so many syllables
between the two marked accents. This sense of hurry probably be-
gins for nearly every one, according to Wundt's figures for filled
intervals, as soon as the interval exceeds 2 seconds in length.
Such intervals occurred as the last of the series of three for O's
No. 3, 4, 6, 9, and 12. O No. 6, accordingly, may easily have had
this feeling of hurry to some extent, although he was retarding
relatively more than any one else in the whole group in his last
Comparing the results from both tables (with regard to inter-
vals 1, 3, 5; 2, 4; and 12, 13, 14), it is clear, at any rate, that O
No. 1 shows objective precision in both; O No. 12, precision and
regularity in progression; O No. 7 shows irregularity in the first
table, but is one of the four whose N values in the second table
suggest the most simple forms of progression; O No. 4 shows
regularity of progression; and some precision; O No. 11, some
precision and some regularity of progression; O No. 10, a good
deal of regularity of progression; O's No. 2 and 9, a good deal of
irregularity; O's No. 5 and 6, some regularity but little precision;
O No. 8, regularity and some precision; O No. 3, some precision,
but much irregularity of progression. Just what any of them really
"felt" in the way of a rhythmic experience during their perform-
ance, is another matter entirely.
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 167
XXVI. Musical " swing " :
The object of this experiment is chiefly to make clear the fact that
the conventional notation, when denoting a perfectly precise rela-
tion, is attended by all sorts of irregularities in the actual perform-
ance. If tapping, according to Wallin and others, "triples" the
regularity of rhythmic performances, any irregularities found when
such a form of reproduction is employed should be given all the
more weight. Their source, either in cases of so-called "agogic"
accent (in which added duration is used as a means of emphasis in
the place of added stress) or in mere inaccuracy on the part of the
performer, is not discussed at present.
The following figures represent drum-record measurements of the
first three notes in the melody of "My Country 'tis of Thee,"
which in the conventional notation are written as of equal value:
ONo. 1: .36 .42 .38 sec. Range: .06 sec.
2: .30 .33 .33 .03
3: .72 .72 .78 .06
4: .60 .54 .48 .12
5: .30 .30 .30 .00
6: .45 .24 .30 .23
7: .42 .45 .48 .06
8: .60 .51 .50 .10
9: .51 .57 J:4 .60 .09
10: .78 .72 .60 .18
11: .48 .48 .42 .06
12: .54 .54 .54 .00
O's No. 5 and 12 gave the notes equal value; the other ten ob-
servers covered a range of from .03 sec. (O No. 2) to .23 (O. No. 6).
O No. 1 made the second note the longest.
O's No. 3, 7, 9 made the last note longest.
O's No. 4, 6, 8, 10 made the first note longest.
O No. 11 made the first and second equal and longer than the
O No. 2 made the second and third equal and longer than the
It is easy to find reasons in Riemann's "agogic" accent to ex-
plain the distortions in the case of O's No. 1, 4, 6, 8, and 10. In
the case of O's No. 3, 7, and 9 another form of "agogic" accent in
which the interval before the note to be accented is lengthened,
comes into play.
If the above results are obtained in spite of the regulating effect
168 APPENDIX HI
of tapping, it ought to be quite clear that music of a simple metri-
cal pattern involves objective irregularities that cover a compara-
tively large range in a short space of time. This fact should be
kept constantly in mind by those who fail to see how easy it is to
organize subjectively, upon an essentially musical basis, the irregu-
lar intervals of prose. It can hardly be expected, however, that
the more or less unmusical or unrhythmical person can ever thor-
oroughly organize anything upon a musical basis. For such a
person prose, and verse, and music itself, may give something
approaching a rhythmic satisfaction, but never the really com-
XXVH. Phonograph test:
O hears five series of drum-beats reproduced by the phonograph.
He has no information as to their source. The first is a sentence
from Walter Pater; the second, a passage of music by Chopin; the
third, a sentence from Henry James; the fourth, a haphazard
arrangement of words ; the fifth, a haphazard arrangement of musi-
cal notes. These are referred to below as Series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Grading of series for pleasantness:
Units of relative rank (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) were assigned by O's after
the first hearing and after the fourth. 5 stands for highest and 1
for lowest. Some of the O's were unable to grade the series after
only one hearing. S (series) 2 and 4 were graded as most pleasant
twice (by two O's). No other two O's agreed on their choice of
the most pleasant. After the fourth hearing, S 1 and 2, the passage
from Pater and the music from Chopin, were graded as most pleas-
ant by three O's ; S 5, the haphazard music, was graded as most
pleasant on the fourth hearing by O's No. 4 and 6. S 3 and 4,
James and the haphazard prose, were not graded as most pleasant
by anyone, but James was graded with four units by O's No. 3, 8,
and 11; and haphazard prose, with four units by O's No. 4 and 12.
Grading for elusiveness:
On the first hearing, Pater was graded as the most elusive by O's
No. 6, 10, and 12; and with four units, by O's No. 4, 6, and 7. The
regular music and haphazard prose were graded 5 by two O's. On
the fourth hearing, the haphazard music was graded as most elu-
sive by O's No. 3, 4, 9, and 10; Chopin, by O's No. 2 and 8; hap-
hazard prose, by O's No. 11 and 12; Pater, by O No. 6; James,
by no one. The highest number of units of elusiveness assigned to
James was three, given by O's No. 5, 8, and 9. No. 7 insisted
that, after a fourth hearing, none of the series could be graded as
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 169
They all suggested to him definite musical themes.
Grading for ease in beating time:
Each of the series was assigned units (3, 2, 1) for ease and satis-
faction on the part of O, in his attempt to beat time to them. 1
includes very "low"; absolute zero is excluded.
Arrangement of series in regular order:
A: strict unit: Series 2: 17 (total number of units received)
" 1: 16
" 5: 15
" 4: 14
" 3: 12
B: elastic unit: Series 3: 19
" 5: 19
" 2: 18
" 4: 16
" 1: 15
With a strict unit, the Chopin music and the passage from
Pater were considered the most satisfactory. James was rated
last. With an elastic unit most of the records received higher
grades, but the haphazard music was found to be most satisfactory.
Haphazard music received a grade of three, meaning "a high degree
of satisfaction," from O's No. 2, 4, 6, and 8. James received a
grade of three from O's No. 6, 8, 10, and 12. The haphazard prose
received three from O's No. 4 and 8. Chopin received the lowest
grade from O's No. 2, 4, and 5. O No. 1, having made the records,
did not take part in the test.
The results for identifying the source of each of the five series
were as follows: (P = prose, M = music, HP = haphazard prose,
HM = haphazard music)
O's No. 2 3 4 6 6 78 9 10 11 12 (actually)
S 2 HM M M HM M M M M M M P (M)
8 3 P P HM P P M P HP HP HM P (P)
S 4 HP HP P P HP M HM P P P HP (HP)
S 5 M HM HP M HM M HP HM HM HP HM (HM)
O's No. 2, 9, and 10 were the only ones who marked any of their
judgments with an "a" (implying certainty).
As a result of the above tabulation, it is evident that Pater was
marked as prose seven times, as music three times, and as haphazard
prose once. James was marked once as music, and twice as hap-
170 APPENDIX III
hazard music; six times as regular prose, twice as haphazard prose.
The total markings are as follows:
(marked as) P M HP HM
S 1 (Pater) 7310
S 2 (Chopin) 1802
S 3 (James) 6122
S 4 (Haph. P) 5141
S 5 (Haph. M) 0335
No. 7 insisted on marking all five as giving him the impression
of regular music. No one marked haphazard music as prose.
XXVin. Questionnaire :
1. O's No. 2, 3, 4, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 enjoy effects of syncopation
O No. 10 enjoys very little:
2. O's No. 2, 3, 4, 6, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12 enjoy effects of acceleration:
O's No. 2, 3, 4, 6, 6, 7 very much:
O's No. 8 and 12 fairly well:
O No. 11 very little:
O No. 9 not at all:
3. O's No. 1 (data from section I), 6, 6, 8, 11 prefer simple balance:
O's No. 2, 4, 7, 10 prefer occult balance:
O's No. 3, 9, 12 express a divided interest:
4. O's No. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12 enjoy "unitary" pulses:
O's No. 2, (4), (8), (9), (12) not very much:
O's No. 6, 10, 11 not at all:
O's No 3, 6, and 7 are the only ones who clearly committed
themselves to real enjoyment. The value of these rough answers
must not be pressed too far. Perhaps the most interesting thing
to notice is the small amount of pleasure that O No. 11 derives
from effects of acceleration, after having scored so high in the tests
in which it figures.
XXIX. Schedule tests:
A. Series 5: O hears S 5 (haphazard music) again, and states its
effect upon him (pleasant, unpleasant, or indifferent). He then
hears it with schedule I (section XXIX, Appendix II), and later
grades the schedule with units (3, 2, 1) for the amount of interest
it adds to his hearing of the drum-beats. In case the schedule
clearly adds no interest, which was reported by one observer, a
grade of zero is allowed. It should be remembered, however,
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 171
that in all cases where 3, 2, and 1 are used as units, 1 is supposed
to cover the grade of "very low." After reporting on schedule I,
O is given a similar test with schedule II.
1. O's No. 4, 7, 8 announce pleasant effect from Series 5 (without
O's No. 3, 6, 6, 10, 11, indifference or "very little interest":
O's No. 2, 9, 12, unpleasant effect:
2. Schedule I: (units of interest added to S 5)
O's No. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13311302 (1)0 1 Total - 16 units.
No. 10 failed to express her grading in units, but reported
that E's humming the schedule added a small amount of
3. Schedule II:
O's No. 2 3 4 6 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
31321121 (2) 1 1 Total = 18 units.
O No. 10 found no interest in Schedule II except when
hummed, but in that case it added more interest than Sched-
B. Series 1: (Pater)
1. O's No. 3, 4, 8, 10, 11 announce pleasant effect from S 1 (with-
O's No. 2, 6, 6, 7, indifference:
O No. 9, unpleasant effect:
(no report was received from O No. 12) :
2. Schedule I:
O's No. 2 3 4 6 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
32322322 (1) 2 Total = 21 units.
3. Schedule II:
O's No. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
23311201 (0) 1 2 Total - 16 units.
The reports for Schedule I in connection with the passage
of prose from Pater is significant. It means that ten observers
out of eleven (O No. 1, having made the drum-beat records,
could not take part in the test) found various degrees of satis-
faction in listening to a series of prose beats, according to a
172 APPENDIX III
schedule which imposed upon the series an elastic temporal
unit, grouped in three-time. What is more significant is that
three of the observers reported the highest grade of added interest
(3 meaning "very much") and six reported a grade of 2. One
notable fact, of course, is that O No. 11, whose rank in the tests
for accuracy in syncopation and the reproduction of the "swing"
series was among the highest, reports so little interest in the
schedules, as a means of organizing elusive impressions of
rhythm. On the other hand, it should be remembered that
this observer professes no interest either in verse or literary
XXX. Questionnaire :
1. O's No. 4, 7, and 12 feel that they can enjoy the rhythm of a
passage, at times, without any motor response. O No. 4's
enjoyment is concerned with the discovery of amusing or un-
expected organization (as in following the drum-beat records
with a schedule). O No. 12's experience seems to be concerned
with sound images; O No. 7's, with images of a more indefi-
nite nature. All the other eight observers depend upon motor
response for then- rhythmic experiences.
2. All the O's, except No. 3, find that a motor response must be
continued in the form of a series in order to be satisfactory. It
must always be equivalent to "beating time" in some way.
3. All the O's report that an elastic unit (accelerating and retarding)
is necessary in attempting to beat time to prose. O No. 8 makes
the qualification that for short passages one can conceive of
beating a strict time-unit.
4. All the O's, except O No. 2, who failed to find the question
clear, agree that the recurrence of groups of beats irrespective
of a time-unit is not so pleasurable as when the groups recur
in connection with a time-unit. Some of the O's are very
emphatic about this. O No. 10 declares that the recurrence
would be "very disagreeable" unless "periodic." This seems
to be very strong evidence against the possibility of founding
a theory of versification upon anything but a temporal basis
(time, of course, meaning not objective, but subjective time).
It must not be denied, however, that a certain amount of
pleasure ensues from the recognition of mere recurrence. The
point is that every rhythmic "impression" seems, with this
group of O's, to be heightened as soon as it is felt to be organized
upon a time basis.
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 173
XXXI. Unitary music : (first test)
The O's pass judgment upon passages in the music of Cyril Scott,
in which the rhythm is delivered separately from the melody and
"Unitary" means that the time unit is felt as a series of pulses,
not grouped according to a fixed scheme, such as two-time, three-
time, etc., continued throughout. The unit, therefore, in its con-
ception, is more like the "boom" "boom" "boom" of a
tom-tom, very much reduced, of course. It continually falls into
groups of some sort, but the point is that no one form of grouping
is repeated throughout, as a fixed pattern.
The results for the passage used in the first test are as follows:
O No. 1: first hearing: rhythm interesting, but the unit vague.
second hearing: rhythm more interesting, fundamental
unit clear, not repeated as a group; i.e., repeated
as "unitary pulses."
No. 2: 1st: partly pleasant.
2nd: agreeable, O felt unitary pulses.
O No. 3: 1st: indifferent, O felt unit (?).
2nd: more pleasant.
O No. 4: 1st: very pleasant, O felt a unit.
2nd: element of surprise gives pleasure.
O No. 5: 1st: pleasant, O felt a unit.
2nd: interested, O felt unitary pulses.
O No. 6: 1st: unpleasant, O felt no pulse.
2nd: confused, O felt no pulse.
O No. 7: 1st: pleasant, O felt a unit.
O No. 8: 1st: indifferent, O felt no unit.
2nd: pleasant, felt a unit.
O No. 9: 1st: unpleasant, O felt no unit.
2nd: more pleasant, O felt unitary pulses.
O No. 10: 1st: interesting because of " acceleration," unit vague.
2nd: more interesting because of "variety," O felt two
O No. 11: 1st: pleasant, O felt unitary pulses.
2nd: more interesting, O still felt the unitary pulses.
O No. 12: 1st: interesting, unit vague.
2nd: interesting, O felt unitary pulses.
Eight of the O's found the rhythm of the passage to some
extent pleasant on the first hearing; all of the O's, with the
174 APPENDIX HI
exception of No. 6, found it pleasant on a second hearing. Six
of them felt unitary pulses as the underlying temporal basis
for the series of beats.
XXXII. Unitary pulses: (as a form of motor reaction)
The following O's reported the recurrence of groups in a ten-
second exercise of their "most natural" motor reaction:
O No. 1 : complicated groups.
O's No. 2, 4, 8 : groups of fours.
O's No. 10 and 12 : groups of fours.
The following felt unitary pulses:
O's No. 3, 6, 6, 7, 9, and 11.
In other words, six felt groups and six felt unitary pulses. O's
were asked to take their "favorite" type of motor reaction and
continue it "at a rate which seems pleasant" to them. Those who
deny that the pleasant experience of O's No. 3, 6, 6, 7, 9, and 11
is "rhythmic" will have to invent new terms to cover the case.
As it is, there is little room for attacking Lanier's statement that
there is "rhythm" in a recurring temporal series, whether the unit
be grouped or not by the superimposition of accents. The real
facts about such a series of unitary pulses have been stated before.
No series can exist without some element of contrast, since we
cannot become conscious of recurrence until cessation has occurred.
The very word pulse implies gradation of intensity. What we mean
by unitary pulses, however, is that we do not consciously separate
this gradation into clear-cut segments, labelled "one" and "two,"
or "one, two, three," etc. When we group these pulses into two's
and three's, we have changed the smooth up-and-down pulse curve
into a more angular progression, with two or more well-defined
steps for each dip of the line. The individual steps can be in them-
selves either smooth unitary pulses, or be redivided into recogniz-
able, smaller steps.
XXXIII. Unitary music: (second test)
The O's pass judgment upon the rhythm of a second passage
from the music of Cyril Scott.
O No. 1: 1st hearing: pleasant, the arrangement of beats in
groups of varying size confused the
unit to some extent.
2nd hearing: pleasant, unit no longer confused by the
EXPERIMENTAL DATA 175
O No. 2: 1st: unpleasant, unit confused.
2nd: more interesting, unit felt.
O No. 3: 1st: pleasant, unit felt.
2nd: indifferent, unit lost.
No. 4: 1st: pleasant, unit felt.
2nd: pleasant, unit felt.
No. 5: 1st: pleasant, vague unit felt.
2nd: pleasant, vague unit felt.
O No. 6: 1st: pleasant, unitary pulses felt.
2nd: more pleasant, unit felt.
O No. 7: 1st: pleasant, unit felt.
2nd: pleasant, unit felt.
O No. 8: 1st: interesting, vague unit felt.
2nd: interesting, unit felt, (objected to variety of
No. 9: 1st: indifferent, unit felt.
2nd: indifferent, unit felt, (objected to variety of
O No. 10: 1st: (statement of affection omitted), unit felt.
2nd: (statement of affection omitted), unit felt.
O No. 11 : (pleasant, unit felt) data incomplete.
2nd: pleasant, unit felt.
O No. 12: 1st: indifferent, unit vague.
2nd: pleasant, unit vague.
Eight of the O's found the rhythm of the passage either pleas-
ant or "interesting" on the first hearing; nine found it pleasant- or
interesting on the second hearing. On the first hearing O No. 2 found
it unpleasant. O's No. 3 and 9 found it indifferent on the second
hearing, but no one found it unpleasant.
XXXIV. Factors in organizing drum-beat series:
Each of the six organizing factors, or "suppositions" presented
to the observers, were graded by them with units (3, 2, 1, 0), accord-
ing to the degree that they "assist or do not assist" in explaining,
or rendering less "puzzling," elusive impressions or rhythm in
prose-beats such as those in Series 1 (Walter Pater). 3 means
"very much assistance"; 2, "considerable assistance"; 1, "a small
amount of assistance"; 0, "none."
1. An elastic time-unit, grouped throughout in two's, or through-
out in three's, etc.
2. An elastic unit, grouped in stretches of some one smaller group,
176 APPENDIX III
but capable of changing from a stretch of two's to a stretch of
3. The possibilities of syncopation, as a means of correlating seem-
ingly irregular beats with an under-unit of time.
4. The possibilities of dividing the fundamental time-intervals
into smaller intervals, but quite spontaneously (as occurred in
the first passage from the music of Cyril Scott) not accord-
ing to a scheme that could be anticipated.
5. Elastic unitary pulses (as occurred in both passages from Cyril
Scott), with the added possibility, evidently in the second
passage, of grouping the pulses in clusters of constantly varying
6. The imposition of a humming tune upon the series.
The grades for the six organizing factors, in their degree of
helpfulness, are as follows:
2 = 21 units
1 = 15
3 = 13
2 = 20
1 = 17
11 12 9 6 9 18 6 12 3 9 11
The maximum possibility is 18 units of assistance (roughly
Arrangement of O's in relative order, according to gross amount
of assistance, reported as obtainable from the suppositions:
O No. 7 : 100% of the maximum (18)
3, 9: 67
6, 8: 33
Arrangement of the six factors in relative order, according to
the total number of units assigned to each (out of a possible 33) :
Factor 1: 64% of the maximum (33)
4, 6: 61
EXPERIMENTAL DATAJ 177
An elastic unit (factor 1), accelerating and retarding, but grouped
consistently, was judged by all the observers, without exception,
to be of more or less assistance in the subjective organization of
prose-beats. Spontaneous substitution (factor 4) and tune-hum-
ming (factor 6) were very close to it in value. No. 10 graded syn-
copation (factor 3) zero, as might have been expected. So also,
one or two others who would be classified as passively rhythmic.
No. 7 and No. 12, both of whom may be regarded as, at any rate,
not passive, gave it the highest grade. All the factors, including
unitary pulses, figure prominently in the experiences of No. 7.
Nothing would be more misleading than to put too general an
interpretation upon the data listed in this appendix. The tables
must be regarded simply as the recorded results for twelve observ-
ers, superficially tested, with regard to a few of the complex proc-
esses which contribute to rhythmic experience. Suggestion, no
doubt, influenced many of the judgments announced. Some of
the tests for individual difference, as, for instance, the one for
accuracy in reproducing an accelerating series of intervals (Ap-
pendix III, section vii, 7) indicate that in some particulars, at least,
the errors of the twelve observers represent a distribution abnor-
mally ideal for so limited a group. It approaches the kind of dis-
tribution that the old-time theorists took pleasure in claiming for
humanity at large. But this particular grouping may easily be re-
garded as a matter of coincidence. In some tests, in fact, the devia-
tions have completely failed to follow the "normal" arrangement,
crowding together first at one extreme, and then at the other. The
experimenter feels, however, that the observers, as a whole, were
a very satisfactory lot. They appear to be, at any rate, more
representative, in certain points of individual difference, than one
usually dares to hope for in so small a sampling.
I. In "Experimental Procedure" and "Experimental Data" (Ap-
pendices II and III) :
E - the experimenter
O = the observer or subject upon whom the experiment is made
tsm = the time-sense machine
kymo = kymograph
metr = metronome
AVE = Average Variable Error (see p. 131)
GCE = Gross Constant Error (see p. 131)
uas = unit-accuracy simple
GV - Grading Value, etc., etc. (see p. 131 ff.)
II. In "Bibliography" and notes throughout the text:
Abh. = Abhandlung N. S. = New Series
Am. = American Norm. = Normale
Angew. = angewandt - Path. - Pathologique
Arch. = Archiv or Archives Phil. = Philosophy, etc.
Assoc. = Association Psy. = Psychology, etc.
Ber. = Bericht Rep. = Report
d. = der, die, das, etc. Rev. = Review
Ges. = Gesellschaft Ser. = Series
Inter. = International, etc. St. = Studies, Studien
J. = Journal Trans. = Transactions
Kl. = Klasse u. = und
kon. = koniglich Wiss. = Wissenschaft
Mod. =- Modern z. = zur, zum
Monog. = Monograph Zeitsch. = Zeitschrift
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Accelerando, 52, 68
Accelerating and retarding units,
xxii, 3, 10, 64, 89
Acceleration, xx, 3, 10, 11, 63, 66,
94, 165, 166
Acceleration experiment, 50, 54 ff.,
95, 105, 106, 111, 112, 116,
Accent, 4, 8, 13, 23, 31, 33, 36,
37, 40, 42, 57, 68, 75, 78, 79,
Adjustment, 66, 67, 95
Aggressively rhythmic observers,
xix, xx, 16, 61, 84, 88, 94, 101
"Agogic accent," 51, 52, 61, 167
Alliterative verse, 21, 38, 84, 85
American Indians, xix, xxi, 6
Anglo-Saxon charters, 96
Anglo-Saxon verse, 22, 38, 84, 85
Apparatus, 103 ff.
Appropriate rhythm, xxii, 66, 91,
96, 97, 100, 101, 154 ff.
Aristotle, ix, 39
Artistic adjustment, 97
Attention, xix, 18, 22, 42, 69, 86,
Auditory imagery, 10, 49, 94, 95,
109, 131, 151
"Authorized Version," The, 98
Automatic syncopation, 12, 65, 99
Automatism, 23, 76, 99
Average Variable Error, 50, 60,
Balance, 1, 80, 82, 84, 85, 93
Beethoven, 66, 92
Benussi, 34, 163-165
Binet and Courtier, 19
Binet and Simon, 87
Boas, xix, 89
Body-rhythm, 24, 82
Bolton, 17, 48
Breath-phenomena, 4, 18, 65, 67,
118, 148, 158, 159
Breath-rate, 65, 109, 130
Brown, W., 30, 31
Browne, Sir T., 29
Chopin, 2, 45, 51, 92, 123, 168-170
Coincidence the criterion of verse
experience, 75, 91, 98
Complex coordination, 113, 144 ff.
Coordination, 4, 15, 77, 113
Coordination theory, xxiii, 13 ff.,
Correlations, 148, 149
Criterion of prose experience, 75,
Criterion of verse experience, 75, Gordon, K., 82
91, 98 Grammatical accent, 13, 79, 93, 96
Curtis, N., xxi Gross Constant Error, 50, 60, 131
Grouping, 72, 78, 89, 90, 93, 94, 98
Dancing, xxii, 37 Guest, 19, 22
Data, 139 ff. Gummere, 19, 22
De Quincey, 117, 152, 153, 156
"Development" of prose rhythm, Haphazard arrangements, 2, 3,
39, 96 63, 95
Dickens, 14 Haphazard series subjectively or-
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, ix, 39 ganized, xxii, 73, 84, 88, 90, 94
Drozynski, 40 Harmony memory, 114, 150
Drum-beat rhythm, 2, 7, 15, 90, Hopi Indian, the, 86, 87
117, 152 ff. Hurst and McKay, 19, 20
Ease, 66, 84, 90, 97, 100, 154 ff . Illusions, 13, 33, 34
East Indian music, 6, 72 Imagery tests, 109, 131
Economy, 97 Imitative facility, 61
Elastic units, xx, xxii, 3, 10, 47, Indian's sense of rhythm, the, xix,
61, 63-65, 71, 87, 89, 95, 175-177 7, 87
Elman, Mischa, 48 Indifference point in judgments of
Elusive impressions of rhythm, 14, time, 23, 32, 165
62, 63, 81, 91, 168, 175 Individual difference, ix, 10, 48,
Errors of resonance, 25 54, 94, 95, 129 ff .
Experimental data, 129 ff. Intensity memory, 116, 151, 152
Experimental procedure, 107 ff . Intervals, empty and filled, 33, 34,
Felicity of phrase mistaken for Irregular movements, 32
rhythm, 81, 97 Isocrates, 39
Filled intervals, 33, 34, 164, 165
Fillmore, 7 James, Henry, 2, 29, 123, 168,
Fitness, 84, 91, 97, 100, 154 ff. 169, 170
Five's and seven's, reaction to, James, William, 16
120, 160, 161
Five-seven rhythm, 5, 6, 7, 95, 161 Kinsesthesis, x, 40, 71. See Motor
Folk-dancing, xxii reaction
Free verse, 74 ff ., 98 Kwakiutl Indians, xix, 89
"Gadya" prose, 79 Laboratories described, 103 ff.
"General Trend" in swing experi- Landry, 36
ment, 133 ff. Lanier, 19, 22, 43, 174
Goethe, 29 Lidell, 42
Lowell, Miss Amy, xii, 80
Melody in speech, 21, 96. See
Memory, 66, 82
Memory tests, 114-116, 119,
133 ff., 140-142, 149-152, 159
Metre, xx, 66, 67, 83, 100
Meumann, 3, 8, 10, 17 ff., 23, 45,
Miller, D. C., 104
Mistaken ideas about prose
rhythm, 81, 97
Miyaki, 3, 27
Mood, 66, 67, 69, 73
Motor imagery, 94, 95, 109, 131
Motor reaction, x, 3, 4, 14, 15,
40, 71, 100, 160, 161
Motor rhythm, 19
Motor theory for melody, 24
Motor theory of rhythm, 24
Miiller, 106, 131
Muscular contractions hi rhythm,
24, 31, 65, 89
Muscidus tensor tympani, 31, 65
Music, xxi, 2, 45, 51, 66, 72, 73,
92, 101, 123, 127, 167-170,
Musical enjoyment, 41
Musical "swing," 122, 167
Music, modern, 44
Music, unitary pulses in, 72, 127,
Newman, Cardinal, 117, 152, 153,
New Standard, 13 ff.
Observer No. 1, 2, 12, 59, 60, 62,
65, 94, 130-167, 173, 174
Observer No. 7, 2, 7, 14, 63, 64,
89, 90, 94, 130-177
Observer No. 10, 10, 14, 49, 59,
60, 94, 130-177
Observer No. 12, 63, 90, 130-177
Observers classified, 130-177
Observers, list of, 130
Occult balance, 1, 8, 82, 85, 86, 93
Old English verse, 22, 38, 84, 85
Organizing factors, 94, 128, 175 ff.
Origin of music, 32
. Origin of poetry, 34
Origin of tune-images, 31
Passively rhythmic observers, 16,
88, 94, 95, 100
Pater, 2, 62, 63, 66, 67, 70, 73, 80,
99, 117, 123, 153, 156
Patterns of time and stress, 66, 67,
Phonograph experiment, 2, 12,
Photographs of speech, x, 55, 56,
103, 104, 119, 140 ff.
Pitch, 40, 42, 69, 93, 96
Pitch memory, 49, 60, 114, 149,
Pitch patterns, 75, 86
Poetic prose, ix, 77, 79, 98
"Possibility" scanning, 96, 118,
Precision, 50, 60
Primitive music, 6, 7
Primitive rhythmic sense, 6, 27
Progressive movement, 51, 53, 56,
Prose experience explained, xxii
note, 75, 91, 98
Prose intervals objectively hap-
Prose rhythm, xxii, 14, 37, 38, 72,
75, 81, 90, 91, 97
Puffer, 4, 8, 21, 82
Pulse-consciousness, 118, 158
Pulse-rate, 64, 65, 109, 130
Pulses, unitary. See Unitary
Questionnaires, 49, 108, 124, 127,
130, 170, 172
"Rag-time," 4, 68
Ratan Devi, 72, 73
"Relativity Conditions," 134 ff.
Rhythm, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31, 36,
88, 89, etc.
Rhythmic experience x, 69 ff., 91
Rhythmic tunes, xx, 3, 5, 6, 11,
12, 14, 52, 62 ff., 75, 88, 95,
99, 101, 176, 177
Rhythm of thought, 17, 42, 87, 92
Rhythm of work, 27, 32
Riemann, 51, 167
Ritardando, 52, 68
Ruckmich, x, 40, 41, 49
Ruskin, 14, 29
Saintsbury, ix, 39
Sanf ord and Triplett, 26
Sanskrit prose, 79
Scanning, 14, 96, 100, 158
Schedules, 2, 63, 64, 125 ff., 170 ff.
Schipper, xi, 37, 38, 85
Schumann, xxi, 66, 72, 92
Scott, Cyril, 44, 72, 73, 92, 127,
173, 174, 176
Scripture, 3, 25, 26, 48
Seashore, 42, 48, 123
Secondary rhythm, 98
Sense of rhythm, 2, 22, 48, 49, 91
Sense of swing, xx, 47-61, 94
Sense of tune, 14, 16, 60
Seven-five syncopation, 5, 6, 7,
Shaw and Wrinch, 20
Sievers, ix, xi, 9, 20, 21, 37, 84,
85, 96, 105
Smith, M. K., 18, 27
Sound-photographs, x, 55, 56, 93,
103, 104, 119, 140 ff., 159
Speech-melody, 21, 96
Spontaneity, 66, 84, 90, 97, 100
Spontaneous substitution, 10, 70,
92, 94, 100, 176, 177
Sprachmelodie, 21, 96
Squire, xi, 27-29, 37, 44
Standards, 84, 90, 91, 97
Steadiness, 50, 60
Stetson, 24, 106
"Stressers," xxi, 77, 81 ff., 92, 98,
Stress-patterns, 14, 67, 75, 76, 79,
83, 86, 95, 96 note, 100
Subjective grouping, 13, 90, 94,
Subjective rhythm test, 110, 132
Subjective time, 64, 68, 88
Subjective units, 47, 64, 68, 69
Substitution, xxui note, 3, 5, 7, 8,
14, 66, 92, 100, 176, 177
Substitutional symmetry, 8, 86, 93
Subtlety, 60, 78, 95
Swing, xx, 94, 97, 122, 162 f
Syllables, 25, 66, 75, 93
Symmetry, 78, 85, 98
Syncopation, xx note, 3, 4, 5, 9,
11, 12, 14, 65, 66, 67, 70, 77,
92, 94, 95, 100, 101, 113, 119,
120 ff., 143, 144, 159-161, 176,
Syncopation tests, 113, 119 ff.,
143, 144, 159-161
Systems of grading always danger-
Tapping, 65, 70, 97, 99, 101, 148,
"Temple of Memphis." See Cyril
Tempo, 9, 18, 61
Tempo rubato, 50-52, 61
Tension-summits, 87, 89, 93
Thomson, 42, 43
Thorndike, E. L., 41
Thought-rhythm, 17, 42, 87, 92
Time-basis for rhythm, 22, 90
"Timers," 66, 74, 75, 80, 87, 89-
91, 98, 101
Time-patterns, 66, 75, 86
Time-sense, 31, 98, 99, 101
Tom-tom, 73, 89
Tone-color, 14, 66, 67, 69, 73, 75,
78, 81, 82, 93, 97, 99
Tone-color mistaken for rhythm,
"Traumerei," xxi, 72, 73
Two-beat theory for Old English
verse, 22, 38
Types, xix note
Unit-accuracy, 94, 110, 131, 144 ff.
Unitary music, 127, 173-175
Unitary pulses, xx, xxii, 3, 8, 44,
47, 65, 69, 71, 87, 127, 173, 174
Unit of time, 20
Variable Error, 131
Velocity, 51, 53, 61
Verse, 66, 75, 78 note, 82, 83, 91
Verse experience explained, 75, 91,
Versification, 36, 38, 84, 85
Vers libre, 74 ff., 98
Visual imagery, 109, 131
Visual rhythm, 24
Vocal step, 20, 35
Voice-photographs, 55, 56, 103,
104, 119, 140 ff.
Vowel-quality memory, 10, 49,
Walking-rate, 11, 12, 31, 50, 64,
Wallin, 22, 77, 91
Weight, 36, 37, 75, 86, 96
Weld, 41, 42
Wundt, 1, 3, 8, 10, 13, 31-34, 46,
51, 62, 90, 149
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